Having Jane Bunnett back on the Arlington stage makes it seem more like summer. Her light laugh and diminutive form – she’s looking a bit thin after so much touring – is not at all representative of how she fills a space with music that gets under your skin.
Jane Bunnett is our musical sunshine and this year the Order of Canada recipient is back in Maynooth with five brilliant young protégés and the music is better than ever before.
Jane’s new collaboration involves a collective of all-star Cuban musicians. Jane holds her space at centre stage and is supported by a foundation of five brilliant women. The flow of energy between these women is remarkable. They communicate intuitively and they tease out notes and rhythms. The music is both sultry and smart – these women know how to please a crowd.
Jane and Maqueque (pronounced Mah-keh-keh), have been touring Canada but thankfully for those of us living North of 7, they have taken a brief two-night stop to re-connect with Maynooth – a location that feels like home to Jane and her husband Larry Cramer. Jane’s family cottage is a few minutes away on lake St. Peter and although her music is Cuban in its sound – there is a local connection that was lovingly highlighted last night.
The first track on Jane’s new album is called “Papineau.”
The song, as Jane told the Arlington crowd last night, was inspired by a very special waterfall – its location shared with her by local journo Barry Hendry. Barry has always had a strong connection with Jane and Larry – based on a solid appreciation of their music but also because both Jane and Larry are stories waiting to happen. And the affection is mutual with Jane recognizing Barry from her stage of stars. The moment was full of gratitude as rich as the music.
And that’s why it’s always worth fighting for tickets to see these musicians. The show last night, like all Jane and Larry do, was full of local colour. From shout-outs about the Maynooth Farmers’ Market to applause for Maynooth Mayoral candidate Joey Shulman, the night felt intimate – like a surprise backstage pass.
And that’s what Jane and Larry have always done so well. They pull the most talented international musicians into the craziness of rural Ontario and overcome language and cultural barriers through their engaging music.
The music is brilliant and the arrangements are tight. This music is the kind that you feel and the audience, full of the most disparate group of church-goers, hipsters, farmers and Dancing Andy, came together and shared the soulful groove like this was what we did every Friday night. No discord. Pure harmony.
For those who missed last night – you might be able to find a ticket for Saturday’s show but I hear the gig is sold out.
Maybe though, with some sweet-talking from the community we could convince Jane and Maqueque to make a return when their tour wraps-up. Because the thought of waiting another long year to see and hear Jane seems ridiculous. Truly, there ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
Maqueque band members are Jane, on flute and soprano sax, virtuoso drummer Yissy García, dynamic percussionist Daymé Arceno, (who is also a powerhouse vocalist), Yusa on tres guitar and fretless bass, pianist Danae, and Magdelys on batás and congas.