(EAST MEREDITH) Saturday, July 28, starting at 8pm, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque perform their broadly appealing and exhilarating blend of hard-driving Afro-Cuban rhythms, folkloric influences, and contemporary jazz at the West Kortright Centre. A four-time Juno award–winner and double Grammy nominee,Canadian flutist and soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett has been introducing jazz and world music audiences to some of the finest Cuban musicians for more than thirty years. First at The WKC in 2001 with Spirits of Havana, Bunnett returned in 2015. However, a US State Department computer glitch left most of her band Maqueque (an all-female group, translated as “spirit of a young girl”) stuck in Cuba! Jane was able to put together an exciting alternate lineup for her shows at The WKC and Rochester Jazz Fest that year– including popular Cuban singer/songwriter/actress Melvis Santa, who is now part of the Maqueque lineup for 2018, which also features Dánae Olano (vocals, piano), Yissy Garcia (drums), Magdelys Savigne (vocals, batá drums, congas), Elizabeth Rodriguez (vocals, violin), and Celia Jiménez (vocals, bass).
In the interim, the band has toured internationally to tremendous acclaim. North American dates of note include Jazz at Lincoln Center and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC, a double bill with Arturo Sandoval at Montreal Jazz Fest, and invitations this season to play ten jazz festivals in the U.S. alone, including the prestigious Newport and Monterey Jazz fests. In addition, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque’s 2016 release “Oddara” was nominated for a Grammy award.
Born and raised in Toronto, Jane Bunnett began her jazz apprenticeship after seeing Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk on a 1975 trip to San Francisco. She was introduced to the soprano saxophone by an album of Steve Lacy and later studied with Lacy in Paris and with pianist Barry Harris in New York City. Pianist Don Pullen became a frequent collaborator, and during the early 1990s she recorded several albums with him and with Dewey Redman, Vincent Chancey, Billy Hart, and vocalists Sheila Jordan and Jeanne Lee. Bunnett has 17 recordings to her credit and has toured the world as a flutist, saxophone player, and pianist. She is also an educator, spokesperson, and social activist. In 2004, Bunnett was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor given there, granted to Canadian citizens for outstanding achievement and service to the country or to humanity at large. She’s also garnered the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and most recently, the Ontario’s Premier’s Award for Excellence.
Her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been groundbreaking. Bunnett took her first trip to Cuba in 1982. Within three weeks, she returned there to meet such legendary musicians as Hilario Duran, a pianist Bunnett calls “the best in the world.” (He now lives in Toronto and performs often with Bunnett.) She subsequently dedicated her life to the country’s music, traveling to the island more than 100 times. In 2013 she recognized that opportunities for women in jazz in the southern hemisphere were rare. In response, she helped establish this current all-female band of young Cuban artists, blending folkloric Cuban music and jazz.
Tickets are $25 ($28 day of); WKC Member $22 ($25); $11 Under 19. Tickets are available online until 8pm on Friday, July 27, and on-site at the ticket booth, starting at 7PM on Saturday. The West Kortright Centre is located midway between Oneonta, Delhi, and Stamford. Follow signs from state Route 23 in Davenport Center or state Route 10 east of Delhi. For advance tickets and exact travel directions, visit www.westkc.org or call (607) 278-5454.