20 October 2016: spirits of Havana/spirits of Jazz?

Some music stands the test of time better than others. It is an obvious statement, but is one that came to mind when listening to Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana which has been re-released as a 25th anniversary two-disc edition. You can judge for yourself by listening to two tunes on this week’s show – one from each disc – via the Mixcloud tab.

jane-bunnett-spirits-of-havana-25th-anniversaryDoes Jane Bunnett’s music stand the test of time. I would say with certainty that it does. In 1991, Canadian soprano sax/flute player Jane Bunnett and her husband trumpeter Larry Cramer travelled to Havana and played and recorded with Cuban musicians, including vocalist Merceditas Valdes and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The show opens this week in uplifting style with their version of the traditional tune Mondongo.  Later the title tune Spirits of Havana is featured with fine examples of Bunnett’s soprano playing in tandem with strong, rhythmic Cuban percussion. It left me feeling what must it have been like to have been there in the studio to hear this music which sounds so free and joyful yet is enclosed within a clear Latin parameter?  It is another example of how much Latin music and jazz are interwoven: the spirits of Havana are the spirits of jazz and vice-versa?

cap-de-bon-esperanceFrench pianist Florian Pellisier and his Quintet has featured on Cosmic Jazz before. The release of their new record Cap De Bon Esperance provided the perfect occasion to play a tune from this album, a long piece which builds slowly from isolated piano notes over 13 minutes 23 seconds of intense enjoyment. If you like modal music, Florian Pellisier is a man for you and as further evidence you can hear on this week’s show the title tune from his previous album.

Incognito are a band that I can enjoy but find irritating in equal measure. The leader and arranger Bluey is a veteran of the scene. The sound is full, the musicians are great and the guest vocalists are top-notch. The music is jazzy rather than jazz but the jazz lover in me leaves me frustrated that those horn solos or those percussive breaks are not longer and less controlled. Maybe live they are or maybe that is the way it is meant to be. That said, the band’s 2016 album In Search of Better Days (which was free in August 2016 to subscribers of the Black Music magazine Echoes) is a good listen. The tune Echoes of Utopia proves what they really can do.

This week’s CJ also featured two short tunes used to introduce new albums – firstly, Urban Elements featuring Swedish alto sax player Fredrik Kronkvist and secondly, an exciting young Polish sax player Maciej Kadziela. To complete this week’s varied line-up was part of a tune from the new compilation of 20 years of his New Conception of Jazz project – Norwegian and CJ favourite Bugge Wesseltoft.

  1. Jane Bunnett – Mondongo from Chamolonga (Disc 2 of  Spirits of Havana 25th anniversary edition)
  2. Florian Pelissier Quintet – La Foret Des Biches Bleues from Cap De Bon Esperance
  3. Florian Pelissier Quintet – Biches Bleues from Biches Bleues
  4. Incognito – Echoes of Utopia from In Search of Better Days
  5. Urban Elements feat. Fredrik Kronkvist – Opening Move from New Dimensions
  6. Maciej Kadziela – Introduction from The Taste of the World
  7. Jane Bunnett – Spirits of Havana from Spirits of Havana
  8. Bugge Wesseltoft and  the NCOJ – Extreme from Somewhere in Between

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