Jane Bunnett | Radio Guantanamo
Guantanamo Blues Project Vol.1

EMI 11 Tracks

Let’s go to Guantanamo
by Joyce Corbett January 2006

This CD is so full of influences and confluences, if you asked me, I could write a book. The list of musicians on the CD is high volume. There is Jane Bunnett’s current group: David Virelles on piano, Larry Cramer on trumpet, Kieran Overs on acoustic bass, Ethan Ardelli on drums and Jalidan Luis Castro on congas. There are two Changui groups and a vocalist, Tiburon Morales, from Cuba. There are two New Orleans natives, Howard Johnson on tuba and Johnny Sansone on accordion, harmonica and vocals plus guest musicians Dewey Redman on tenor, Kevin Breit on guitars, Denis Keldie on organ, and Carlos Tomas on trumpet.

The liner notes mention the province of Guantanamo’s musical influences: African, Spanish, French, Haitian and, via the military base, American. The notes also give you a flavour of the darker side of Guantanamo and its state of ever-present vigilance. All of these elements are present in the music on Radio Guantanamo.

The first track, “Changui para Alfredo” is a changui-jazz blend written by Jane Bunnett, played by the Grupo Changui de Guantanamo along with Jane Bunnett’s group, Dewey Redman and Howard Johnson. It’s a well-chosen opener, marrying the two traditions seamlessly. The last piece on the CD, “Vamos para Guaso, Compay” (Let’s go to Guantanamo)”, which also adds jazz intruments to the changui mix, provides a logical conclusion. I like the order of the pieces on this CD, the flow and the contrasts.

The second track is Johnny Sansone’s “Give Me One Dollar”. It features accordion and tuba over Afro-Cuban percussion, and like Johnny’s other piece — “No Money, No Chica” it is a saucy, street-smart teaser that shuffles between Cuba and New Orleans. Johnny Sansone’s harmonica and Denis Keldie’s organ lead into the third track, “Kiriba”, a traditional Afro-Cuban song.

“Guantanamo Blues (Part 1)” starts out subdued and bluesy and takes you on a complex voyage. The deep African roots and penetrating vocals of “Loma de Chivo (Part 2)” reach into your soul and cling there. “Conga Blue” excites with its heavy-hitting rhythm, and the dreamy “You Have Changed My Life” leaves you with a pleasant glow.

“New Orleans Under Water” (Nueva Orleans bajo agua), credited to Jane Bunnett, Johnny Sansone and Kevin Breit, is the masterpiece of the CD. Haunting electric sounds and breathy flute set the atmosphere, then rhythm and melody enter to sweep us into hues of blues, depths of unspeakable tragedy, flute screams, gripping harmonica and sliding guitar. This is followed by “Yemaya”, based on a traditional Cuban song. Yemaya is the goddess of the sea in the Santeria religion, the goddess from whom all life springs.

Jane Bunnett’s Radio Guantanamo is jazz, blues and world music, sometimes distinct and sometimes deliciously intermingled. It will make you want more. Seconds and thirds are coming. Volume 2 and a DVD are in the works.

Jane Bunnett | flute, soprano saxophone
Larry Cramer | trumpet
David Virelles | piano
Kieran Overs | acoustic bass
Ethan Ardelli | drums
Jalidan Luis Castro | congas
Tiburon Morales | vocals
Howard Johnson | tuba
Johnny Sansone | accordion, harmonica, vocals
Dewey Redman | tenor saxophone
Kevin Breit | guitar
Denis Keldie | organ
Carlos Tomas | trumpet
Grupo Changui de Santiago
Grupo Changui de Guantanamo
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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