Jane Bunnett's Spirits of Havana
was delightful to hear Jane Bunnett and her Spirits of Havana
again at the Bird of Paradise on March 15. The soprano saxophonist/flutist
hires musicians of high quality and plenty of Cuban spirit. This time
she came to town with trumpeter Larry Cramer, pianist Jackie Warren
(from Cleveland), and three Cubanos: bassist Roberto Occhipinti, drummer
Francisco Mela, and congero Luisito Oregboso. Bunnett and Cramer have
written and arranged most of the music, which is an intriguing and personal
version of Afro-Cuban jazz.
"Havana Jane" was the most interesting
soloist, but she did not hog the limelight and gave ample time to everyone
else. She opened up with a wonderful flute solo in the vein of Roland
Kirk, followed by some mellow fluegelhorn by Cramer. Most of the first
set she treated us to her full-toned soprano. Warren provided the required
muscular piano for the occasion, while Oregboso and Mela laid down a
solid but shifting rhythmic groove. Oregboso was also the main vocalist
for the evening.
Unfortunately I had to leave as several members
of the Los Munequitos de Matanzas troupe (in town at Hill) walked into
the Bird to participate in the festivities. I can understand why they
came and why they came back the next day. This was the real stuff!