Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Bunnett, Jane, soprano saxophone, flute; Toronto, 22 October 1956. She was trained as a classical pianist and clarinetist. Hampered at the piano by tendonitis, she began playing flute and a little bit of alto saxophone. While at the university, she broke her ankle, and with the out-of-court settlement money she bought a soprano. Bunnett moved into jazz after meeting trumpeter Larry Cramer at York University in Toronto--they have been together ever since. Among their favorite LPs from those years were Stanley Cowell's record, Musa Ancestral Streams; Abbey Lincoln, That's Him; Don Pullen's solo piano album on Sackville; and Clifford Jordan's 1973 album Glass Bead Game.
She did some studying under saxophonist Steve Lacy and pianists Pullen and Barry Harris. They first went to Cuba as tourists in the early 80s. They started to work on the project in Jane Bunnett about 1988 and started to record in 1990. One experience Bunnett and Cramer shared was the threat of legal action from the United States for doing business in American-blockaded Cuba, even though the two are Canadians. The internationally-condemned Helms-Burton bill cast a shadow over musical artists involved with Cuban musicians, but the undeterred Bunnett and Cramer playfully named their 1996-97 tour "Come Helms Or High Water." Ultimately, they claimed a sort of moral victory when they took a group of Cuban musicians to perform at Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Since 1990, she and partner Larry Cramer, a trumpeter, have brought more than 40 Cuban musicians to tour with them in Canada and the United States, and they've established the Spirits of Music project that raises money to repair broken instruments in Cuba's conservatories. In 2000, Jane was the subject of a feature length NFB documentary, "Spirits of Havana."
In May of 2002 the Smithsonian Institute recognized and honoured Jan for her "lifetime of dedication to the enrichment and diffusion of Latin music" At the same time, Bunnett has maintained her connection to the jazz mainstream. Throughout her career she has regularly performed and recorded with such major jazz artists as saxophonist Dewey Redman, pianists Pullen, Paul Bley, and Stanley Cowell, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Billy Hart, and singers Sheila Jordan and Janne Lee, among others.
Cuban Odyssey (2002); Water Is Wide; Rendez-Vous; Spirits Of Havana; Jane Bunnett/Spirits Of Havana: Chamalongo
Hilario Duran: Francisco's Song, Killer Tumbao; Various Artists: Havana Flute Summit; D.D. Jackson: Paired Down, Vol. 2; Marilyn Lerner: In Cuba Birds Are Returning
Cuban Odyssey (2003), a DVD which includes music from the Spirits of Havana documentary and features three songs with Grupo Vocal Desandann; a documentary about their Cuban musical projects, produced by the National Film Board Of Canada.
Five-part series for CBC Radio Two, "Let's Cool One." Each hour-long program featured two jazz artists, interviewed by Cramer and playing with the Let's Cool One band, which was led by Bunnett. Their first show featured Chucho Valdes and Mulgrew Miller, with such subsequent guests as Mose Allison, Marcus Belgrave
Jazz Valentines: Jane Bunnett & Larry Cramer 2/9/99 , by Drew Wheeler (Jazz Central "Jazz Track" e-newsletter)
New York Times, Thursday March 5, 1998 "Cuban Jazz on the March, but With a Canadian Beat," by Anthony DePalma
Paquito D'Rivera, in the September 2002 issue of Jazz Times, declared "Jane is brilliant... what she's doing is valid and legit. She uses the real ingredients."
Bill Milkowski: HearSay. Jane Bunnett - Another World, in: Jazz Times (Mar.1996)
Dave Helland: Jane Bunnett, in: Down Beat (Jan.1990)
Carlo Wolff: Profile. Jane Bunnett, in: Jazziz (Jan.1995)
Bob Bernotas: Jane Bunnett, in: Saxophone Journal (Jul/Aug.1995)
James Keast: Jane Bunnett. Rendezvous, in: Coda (Jan/Feb.1996)