Jane Bunnett and Maqueque is an all-woman Cuban Jazz band led by Canadian multiple Grammy nominee Jane Bunnett. NPR calls them “The New Queens of Afro-Cuban Jazz.”
Bunnett is a Beboper. Bebop and Cubop are the Caribbean Hero Twins reunited. Bebop modern Jazz and Cubop Latin Jazz were formed together in 1940s New York City. Dizzy Gillespie and Mario Bauzá of Machito and His Afro-Cubans were right in the middle of it.
Maqueque is interesting because its a great all-woman band, and because its a Cuban band with a leader who isn’t Cuban. Do you have to be Cuban to play Cuban music well? It helps, but it’s not required.
Home is where the heart is. In the Caribbean, we would call Bunnett “Cubana de Corazón” (Cuban by heart) which describes a non-native who loves the native culture and really understands it. Bunnett has been traveling to Cuba to work with musicians for over 30 years.
Cubana de Corazón
Jane Bunnett is a Canadian soprano saxophonist, flautist and bandleader from Toronto. She is a five-time Juno Award winner. Junos are the Canadian Grammys.
Her Grammy nominations include:
- Best Latin Jazz Album for “Oddara” (2018)
- Best Latin Jazz Album for “Cuban Odyssey” (2004)
- Best Latin Jazz Album for “Alma de Santiago” (2003)
Bunnett has also been awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor for outstanding achievement and service to humanity.
“Maqueque” means lacquer or makeup in Caribbean Spanish. What started out five years ago as a project to record and mentor young brilliant Cuban female musicians, has become one of the top groups on the North American jazz scene.
In recent years, they have played in major jazz festivals like Newport and Monterey, been featured on NPR’s program Jazz Night in America, were nominated for a Grammy Award for their newest release, Oddara, and, most recently, were voted as one the top ten jazz groups by the prestigious DownBeat magazine’s critic’s poll.
- Jane Bunnett on soprano saxophone and flute.
- Joanna Tendai Majoko on vocals.
- Mary Paz Fernandez on congas and vocals.
- Dánae Olano on piano.
- Tailin Marrero on bass.
- Sanah Kadoura on drums.
Jane Bunnett Albums
She has recorded over 20 albums. These are some of the most notable:
- “On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme” (2019). This was Bunnett’s first album.
- “Oddara” (2016) Best Latin Jazz Album Grammy nominee (2018).
- “Radio Guantanamo (Guantanamo Blues Project Vol. 1)” (2006) Juno Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.
- “Red Dragonfly (AKA Tombo)” (2004). Juno Award nomination for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.
- “Cuban Odyssey” (2002). Juno Award for Best Global Recording and Grammy nomination for Best latin Jazz Recording.
- “Alma de Santiago” (2001). Juno Award nomination for Best Global Recording and Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Recording.
- “In Dew Time” (1988). Bunnett’s first album.