Six years ago, soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett merged her devotion to Afro-Cuban music with her commitment to women’s empowerment, and created Maqueque — a hard-charging group that has since toured the world, received a Grammy nomination and been the subject of a recent episode of Jazz Night in America.
Maqueque has a new album, On Firm Ground / Tierra Firme, just out on Linus Entertainment. Bunnett brought to band to WBGO, for a dynamic performance on Latin Jazz Cruise, and an illuminating conversation with the program’s host, Bobby Sanabria.
“In Cuba, the performing opportunities are hard for everybody,” Bunnett says. “Everyone’s struggling for that little piece of pie, so the guys aren’t really extending it to the women.”
The members of Maqueque, which Bunnett said she regards with maternal affection, are pianist Dánae Olano, bassist and vocalist Tailin Marrero Zamora, drummer Yissy García, percussionist Mary Fernández and the newest edition, Zimbabwean vocalist Joanna Tendai Majoko. And at a certain point in the session, Sanabria makes the jump from interview to performer, sitting in on drums. Here is the band’s performance of “La Linea (The Lineup),” the opening track on the album.
Videography: Chris Tobin and Khadiyah Thomas
Audio Mix and Video Edit: Corey Goldberg
Maqueque is on tour; see Jane Bunnett’s website for more information.