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WINNER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS 2010 CHELSEA-ROEBUCK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WEB MEDIA JOURNALISM.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Cuban Rhapsody: Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran.
Style: Exploration of Cuban Classical Music.
Musicians: Jane Bunnett - Flute and Soprano Saxophone; Hilario Duran - Piano.
Label: Alma Records
Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran Photo courtesy: latinjazznet.com
Review: "Cuban Rhapsody" represents much more than an exploration of Cuban classical music. It is a story of a passionate, enduring love affair between two gifted musicians and the music they adore ; it is about the power of an art form to transcend artificial boundaries and make itself timeless; it is about the deep respect two artists have for each other's talent and the selfless contributions each has made to give voice to the traditions and joy of a music that consumes them; it is about the 'food' of love: Music.
The classically trained, Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran, both with Grammy nominations and Juno awards indelibly imprinted on their musical resumes are also virtuoso players, arrangers, composers and band leaders, who have taken the time to revisit the glorious history of Cuban classical music; to embrace and respectfully present the music of renowned 20th century Cuban composers, Miguel Matamoras, Manuel Corona, Emilio Grenet, Ernesto Lecuona, Frank Emilio Flynn, Abelardo Valdez, Jose Maria Vitier, and Manuel Saumell.
The material presented on the CD is bracketed by the compositions of Miguel Matamoras, (Lagrimas Negras; Son de La Loma) who was considered the greatest and most prolific composer of the Cuban Son, and Ernesto Lecuona y Casado, (Danza Lucumi) a graduate of the National Conservatory of Havana at age sixteen, a master of the symphonic form, and the composer of the Cuban classics "Siboney" and "Malaguena."
Although Bunnett and Duran have derived from different geographic hemispheres, she from Canada, he from Cuba, their smouldering, passionate love for Cuban music allows them to speak as 'one' heart. This oneness is enhanced by the simplicity of the format being utilized, which vacates the space needed to hear the echo of every undying memory and to marvel at the ripple of lasting emotions that inhabit their music.
The crystal clear timbre of Bunnett's flute and the graceful piano of Duran on the (ill-fated) Cuban sentimentalist Manuel Corona's "Longina" and then the seamless coupling to the flighty, airy "Quirino Con Su Tres" of Emilio Grenet move with the quiet, simple majesty of a butterfly.
The centerpiece of Cuban Rhapsody is Manuel Saumell's 'Contradanzas,' a popular form of music and dance that dominated the Cuban musical scene in the early 19th century. Saumell was the most noted composer of the Contradanza. When played as dance music, an ensemble includes, two violins, two clarinets, a contrabass, a coronet, a trombone, an aphicleide (brass-keyed bugle), paila, and a guiro (hollow gourd). Bunnett's flute, soprano saxophone and Duran's piano strip them down to their elemental musical soul and lay bare the purest essence of their Cuban beauty of dance, rhythm and passion. This presentation also included a work by Jose Maria Vitier which combines the classical and Cuban folk music styles, and Ignacio Cervante, the Cuban virtuoso pianist and composer influential in the creolization of Cuban music.
The players maintain an astonishing, arresting, simplicity in the approach to their arrangements of the beautiful "Mario la O" by Ernesto Lecuona;Aberlardo Valdes'"Almendra," and a wonderful original composition by Hilario Duran, 'New Danzon.' Then a nostalgic return to Duran's youth finds favor in Frank Emilio Flynn's 'Sherezada,' a tune he (Duran) says, "I used to hear every day in my house."
And finally, the hauntingly enchanting composition of Ernesto Lecuona called 'Danza Lucumi' brings the culturally rich Cuban Rhapsody to an exquisite climactic end. A 'Cuban Rhapsody' that was never far from its home; never far from its roots; always serenely limpid as the warm Caribbean sea that gently caresses the pristine shores of the country of its origin; leaving the listener in a state of silent awe, as these two virtuosos present this music with the love, respect and care that it so richly deserves.
TrackListing:Lagrimas Negras; Son de la Loma; Longina; Quirino Con Su Tres; Contradanzas:
i -La Tedezco, ii - El Panuelo de Pepa, iii - Los Ojos de Pepa, iv - Los Tres Golpes, v - Tarde en la Habana; Mario la O; Almendra; New Danzon; Sherezada; Danza Lucumi.