Jazz musicians have often turned to Cuba, one of the world’s hotbeds of rhythm, for inspiration--most notably Dizzy Gillespie. Canada’s Jane Bunnett fell in love with the island’s music more than 10 years ago, when the flutist and soprano saxophonist visited there with trumpeter Larry Cramer. A rising international jazz star, Bunnett and husband Cramer recently returned from Cuba with a valuable souvenir: Spirits of Havana, a prized collaboration with several top Cuban musicians. Some of the recording, featuring veteran singer Merceditas Valdés and percussionists Grupo Yoruba Andabo, is simply well-produced, traditional Afro-Cuban music. But such numbers as “Yo Siempre Oddara (Forever Strong and Happy)” and Bunnett’s own “Hymn,” an instrumental eulogy to Miles Davis, stand out as joyful, stirring pieces of Latin jazz. And the album highlights the dazzling work of pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Working under the spell of Cuba’s powerful rhythms, Bunnett has captured a magical sound.
Maclean’s 16 March 1992