Jane Bunnett on Charles Mingus, Don Pullen, Toronto and Cuban jazz history, Maqueque & more
Jane Bunnett is a world-renowned jazz musician and composer who lives in Toronto, Ontario. A Juno award winner and Grammy award nominee, Bunnett is a highly accomplished saxophonist and piano player well known for her incorporation of Cuban music and collaborations with Cuban musicians; her 1991 album, Spirits of Havana, is considered one of the greatest jazz records ever. Her group, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, release their new album, Oddara, is out October 14 via Linus Entertainment and will be touring throughout Canada and the U.S. between September and November. Bunnett will be appearing at the Guelph Jazz Festival on September 16, as part of Song Everlasting, an all-star tribute to the late pianist, Don Pullen. Jane and I met on the terrace of her Toronto home recently to discuss raccoons, spices, the evolution of a rooming house in Parkdale, where goes the neighbourhood, chains, the Gardiner Expressway, the stupid annual Toronto Air Show, Yours to Discover, attending five different Toronto high schools after attending a free school, painting and clarinet, street tough, music in the family and a new house with a piano, sister Sarah, the youngest kids don’t seem to matter as much, big brother’s music collection, piano lessons and bailing, too much playing and jazz, off she went to San Francisco, Charles Mingus, The Colonial Tavern, Don Pullen, improvisation and the flute, Toronto’s New School of Music and Howard Spring, “Nostalgia in Times Square,” snobby record store employees, Toronto’s underappreciated history as a jazz mecca, Claude Ranger, Mark Miller, ahistorical, a range of instruments, the social aspect of music, Mexico and Cuba, discovering greatness in Santiago de Cuba and Havana in 1982, the great percussionist Guillermo Barreto, her partner and collaborator Larry Cramer, the stories behind her all-female Cuban group Maqueque and their new album Oddara, David Virelles, the spirit and fiery energy of a little girl, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, remembering Don Pullen, In Dew Time, Ajay Heble, the esteemed ensemble playing this tribute, Howard Johnson and Saturday Night Live, the Maqueque song, “Dream,” and that was that.
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