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December 2006

Jane Bunnett
Radio Guantánamo: Guantánamo Blues Project Vol. 1
Blue Note Records

Over some 20 years and 50 visits, “Havana Jane” has combed Cuba for inspiration. Here, with longtime musical comrades and guests like the late Dewey Redman, Howard Johnson and Cuban folkloric ensembles Changüí de Guantánamo and Changüí de Santiago, she journeys to Guantánamo, home to changüí—one of the oldest forms of a distinctly “Cuban” musical identity. Along with African and Spanish influences, Guantánamo has a touch of Afro-French from the people who fled there after the Haitian Revolution. Those strands allow Bunnett to connect Cuba and the Crescent City—and the surprise is not that the connection is made, but how natural and fascinating it is.

New Orleans bluesman Johnny Sansone’s “Give Me One Dollar” is grounded in R&B-tinged zydeco. The moving “New Orleans Under Water” references the city’s rich jazz history while offering an elegy to the hurricane-devastated town. Spare yet densely rhythmic changüí informs traditional tunes “Kiriba” and “Loma de Chivo” and Bunnett’s homage, “Changüí Para Alfredo.”

Once again Bunnett creatively blends Cuban music with her own jazz roots and original works. Radio Guantánamo is her strongest, most appealing transmission yet.

Originally published in December 2006
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