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James Spaulding: An Emotion Of Notes

By Published: February 4, 2008
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Speetones, Recent Happenings and the Future

AAJ: You have your own record label now, Speetones. Artistic freedom has to be one of the main appeals for you. How do you approach recording now?

JS: I recorded live at a club in Brooklyn owned by Bob Myers. It had such great vibes at the space but it really didn't have enough space for the engineer to listen to the sound, so that basically it was what you'd call au natural. I am the owner, producer (along with my family) and the artists. But who knows, it's a start!

AAJ: How involved in the various aspects of the record label are you?

JS: Ubiquitously.

AAJ: In 2006 you went to France to do a trio recording with the Pierre Christophe Trio. How did that date come about? The album is fantastic, and for anybody not familiar with your post-Blue Note work, it is the perfect place to start. Your tone is nice and tart, like a good calvados, without ever being shrill. Underlying that is a certain muscularity, without the usual accompanying discordance. The album has a lot of familiar covers, who chose the program?

JS: In July, 2006, which is also the month of my birthday, I was booked by Alain Dupuy-Raufaste of Jazz Friends Productions, in France to perform at several venues. Alain recommended the Pierre Christophe Trio as my rhythm section. This turned out to be a great collaboration. I felt very much in tune with all of the musicians. Gerard Terrones, of Disques Futura et Marge, contacted me through Alain to make a live recording of us while we performed at SUNSiDE Jazz Club in Paris, and the rest is the history of the Down With It! Disques Futura & Marge, 2007) recording.

AAJ: You recently did a three night stint in April at the Iridium, in New York, with Freddie Hubbard which garnered some good reviews. How did the reunion come about? How long had it been since the two of you had played together?

JS: David Weiss is working with Freddie, and he asked me to be a part of this. It's a little different now, we're both older and the vicissitudes of life obviously have played their part. I don't think we'll be playing together again in the near future...but one never knows, does one?

James SpauldingAAJ: You just did a tour of Russia, what did you do over there?

JS: I was booked by a man named Arkadi Owrutski for events in Kiev and Ukraine. It wasn't really for me because it was not really about the music as much as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it was an experience and I had the opportunity to see another (not so familiar) part of Russia.

AAJ: AAJ: Where can fans keep track of your touring schedule and new releases?

JS: I hope to be listing my schedule on my website,, or via jamesspauldingexpressions at MySpace.

AAJ: Well, this is my one stock question. I always ask because it always interests me. Do you have any dream project which you have yet to do?

JS: I would like to get the funding to have my suite, A Song of Courage, perfected and performed at Lincoln Center. I hope to fulfill all my aspirations I've been distracted from doing previously, and to live up to the fans' belief in my musicianship qualities.

Selected Discography

James Spaulding/Pierre Christophe Trio, Down With It! Live at The Sunside (Disques Futura & Marge, 2007)
James Spaulding, Round To It! (Speetones, 2005)
Sun Ra, Spaceship Lullaby—Chicago 1954-60 (Unheard Music Series, 2003)
Alvin Queen, Ashanti (Nilva Records Stereo NQ-34,2002)
James Spaulding Quintet, Blues Up and Over (Speetones, 2001)
James Spaulding, Escapade (HighNote, 1999)
James Spaulding, The Smile of the Snake (HighNote, 1996)
James Spaulding, Blues Nexus (Muse, 1993)
David Murray, David Murray Big Band Conducted by Lawrence "Butch" Morris (Columbia, 1991)
James Spaulding, Songs of Courage (Muse, 1991)
James Spaulding, Gotstabe A Better Way! (Muse, 1988)
James Spaulding, Brilliant Corners (Muse, 1988)
James Spaulding, Plays the Legacy of Duke Ellington (Storyville, 1976)
Charles Tolliver, Impact (Strata-East, 1975)
The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Continuum (Fantasy, 1975)
Archie Shepp, For Losers (Impulse, 1971)
Pharoah Sanders, Karma (Impulse, 1969)
Freddie Hubbard, The Black Angel (Atlantic, 1969)
Lee Morgan, Standards (Blue Note, 1967)
Freddie Hubbard, High Blues Pressure (Atlantic, 1967)
Larry Young,Of Love and Peace (Blue Note, 1966)
Freddie Hubbard, Blue Spirits (Blue Note, 1965)
Wayne Shorter, The Soothsayer (Blue Note, 1965)
Bobby Hutcherson, Components (Blue Note, 1965)
Wayne Shorter, The All Seeing Eye (Blue Note, 1965)
Max Roach, Drums Unlimited (Atlantic, 1965)
Freddie Hubbard, Hub-Tones (Blue Note, 1962)
Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra, The Nubians of Plutonia (Evidence, 1959)
Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra, Visits Planet Earth (Evidence, 1958)
Sun Ra and his Astro Infinity Arkestra, Sound Sun Pleasure!! (Evidence, 1953)

Photo Credits
First photo: Pavel Korbut, courtesy of James Spaulding
Third photo: Fred W. Kelly, courtesy of James Spaulding
All other photos: Genevieve Ruocco

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