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Greg Spero is a man of many parts in his approach to the piano. Based in Chicago, he has been involved in the city's adventurous jazz scene, having played with trumpeter Corey Wilkes and bassist Harrison Bankhead. But he goes beyond these boundaries, finding inspiration in hip-hop and electric distortion, which is quite a way from his early influences that included pianist Oscar Peterson and classical composer Igor Stravinsky.
This recording is aptly titled, for Spero finds his muse in soft shadings and his introspective sensibility creates a largely laidback atmosphere. There are moments when he triggers impetus, gradually driving the tempo up, as he does on "Blue in Green." The cogent transmutation nerves the tune and gives it a radiant inner core making it breathe with passion. He is ably aided by drummer Makaya McCraven, who adds a host of colors that dance from his cymbals.
"Flow" circles in eddies as Spero dwells on the theme, while McCracken accents it into a deeper groove. Then, Spero slips out of the stream by executing a stronger extension of the melody with spirited verve and the tune now has a focused sense of direction and vigor, turning into a tasteful treat.
Spero adds strong chord work to his musings on "Latin Fusion Blues" that complement his rippling notes. However, the melody is not very memorable and the groove is missing. The solo outing "Universe" has better progression and shows that Spero can light up a theme with sensitivity.
Spero channels his creative juices well enough, but they could do with a little more tang.
Track Listing: Hills; Latin Fusion Blues; Interlude One; Flow; Letting it Go; Interlude Two; Universe; Blues in
Personnel: Greg Spero: piano; Makaya McCraven: drums; Matt Ulery: bass.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.