Spirits of Havana
Jane Bunnett has become one of the foremost jazz musicians in Canada, and has gained recognition around the world for her improvising talents, technical proficiency, and writing and band leading abilities. A mid-'80's trip to Cuba with new husband Larry Cramer turned Jane's musical world upside down, into a passion for the island's wildly fertile musical culture and it's people. Since then, Jane has explored the music in every corner of Cuba, and has absorbed the lessons and traditions with the same devotion she has given to her other work, seeking out musicians all over the island. Her tourism has now given way to an obsession with the island's music. "Over the years I developed relationships with some of Cuba's legendary musicians," she recalls. "I've had a great opportunity to learn the music in the streets and in the homes of these people, and that's what fueled my vision." Many of these musicians have played in her exciting group, The Spirits of Havana. In 1991 she recorded Spirits of Havana, with a group of relatively unknown musicians (outside of Cuba) plus Cramer and Canadian bassist Kieran Overs, setting a trend to follow on subsequent recordings. This record was picked by the All-Music Guide as one of the top 300 jazz discs of all time and also captured a JUNO award. The time spent in Cuba has allowed Jane to see firsthand the somewhat deprived conditions of the musical academies, and that led to Jane initiating a program to raise funds to take instrument parts and technicians to Cuba to repair instruments. This has further led to the establishment of a non-profit group, Spirit of Music, to continue on with this work and to broaden the scope with the goal to effect cultural exchanges with other Third World countries. Jane's efforts have been documented in the Genie-nominated and award-winning NFB Film "Spirits of Havana" (2000), which has been shown at many film festivals and nationally on the CBC in 2001. Jane's humanitarian concerns also led to her becoming a Canadian spokesperson for the Ban The Land Mines movement in 2000. Jane continues to perform at jazz clubs and festivals and concert halls and for broadcast throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and Cuba, with her groups, and as a featured solo artist. She has toured Canada several times in the past ten years, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and as far north as Whitehorse, Yukon. She has also done considerable touring throughout the United States. It is her formidable talents and sincere dedication to performing and to jazz that have brought about all her well-earned recognition, and which have afforded her an important place in jazz and in the ears, hearts and minds of music fans everywhere.