Jane Bunnett Cuban Odyssey (Blue Note) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Moving out of Havana might have been the best decision Jane Bunnett's made since going to Cuba in the first place. Crisscrossing the island for the first time, the flutist/saxophonist encountered an incredible range of Cuban music and musicians. Cuban Odyssey, a sort of expanded soundtrack to Bunnett's recent Spirits Of Havana documentary, finds her again jamming with a variety of top players, including Changuito, Pancho Quinto, Guillermo Rubalcaba and the late Merceditas Valdés, but it's in the disc's less traditional moments that the rural route really pays off. A session with Los Muñequitos de Matanzas is predictably uplifting, while the three tracks recorded with Grupo Vocal Desandann, including the spine-tingling Nan Fonn Bwaa, are closer to roof-raising gospel than anything vaguely Cuban. Also excellent is Bunnett's Spirits Of Havana DVD, featuring the revealing film and some blazing outtakes. Bunnett plays Hugh's Room Saturday and Sunday (November 30 and December 1).