Our woman in Havana Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
her new group, Maqueque, soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett plays in a hard-swinging, near-free, post-bop mode, but that voice is woven into the heady rhythmic fabric of her five Cuban colaboradores, who are all women. Experience the spirited mix when they play three gigs for the 12th Annual New Mexico Jazz Festival: a free Music on the Hill event at St. John’s College on Wednesday, July 19; and two concerts Thursday, July 20, and Friday, July 21, at the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque.
Bunnett, who is also an intrepid flutist, studied with renowned soprano player Steve Lacy (1934-2004). He was the prime motivation for her focus on the soprano. “He was an adventurer, and I see myself in that way, even though I’m working in a different idiom. He heard some of my Cuban music, and he said, ‘I could really get into this!’ and he was dancing around with his horn.” She played him her percussion-rich version of the Kenny Clarke and Thelonious Monk piece “Epistrophy” from her 1993 Spirits of Havana album, and he said, “Monk would have liked that.” She continued, “Steve was open and responsive and honest. It’s all about being fearless and trying to step outside of your comfort zone. In my case, the Cuban thing seemed very exciting, and nobody else was doing it. There were no foreigners there when I began traipsing around Cuba.”