All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

9

Aireene Espiritu: Back Where I Belong

James Nadal By

Sign in to view read count
How can someone go back to where they have never been? How can a ukulele playing folk singer accomplish searing blues and soul vocals with such sincere expression and emotion? These are just two of the mysteries surrounding Aireene Espiritu. Her release Back Where I Belong, reveals the answers, and much more.

Though Espiritu has been gigging around the Bay Area for decades, it was at a performance in Oakland (amongst 200 artists) that she caught the ear of Jim Pugh. Pugh is the director of Little Village Foundation, and a highly respected keyboardist with an impressive resume. The idea came to Pugh that since Espiritu is Filipino-American and has a tremendous voice, she would be perfect to cover the songs of iconic R&B songstress Sugar Pie DeSanto, (also Filipino-American) in a back to the future revelation.

Recorded at Greaseland Studios, and produced by Pugh and Kid Anderson, this is a spellbinding session capturing a singer at that precise space in time when all the conditions were perfect. They went back to the DeSanto catalog to cull seven songs, as "Going Back Where I Belong," and "I Don't Wanna Fuss," in a superb revisit to the golden age of R&B. "The One Who Loves You," though covered by DeSanto was a huge hit for both Mary Wells and The Marvelettes, in the 1960's, and looms large in the annals of classic soul songs. "Witch for the Night," is a blazing rocker complete with fancy guitar work and high flying organ, and they slide into the country flavored rumba "Can't Let You Go," with Maurice Tani doing a vocal duet with Espiritu.

The passionate Negro spiritual "No More," represents Espiritu singing acapella, leaving no doubt that she has the voice to cover the broad range of the blues to soul spectrum. Americana favorite "Down By The Riverside," showcases her skills in this genre as well as on the ukulele. She invokes her Filipino heritage on the acoustical numbers "Bayan Ko," and "Oras Na," and is rejoined by Maurice Tani on "Dukha," adding a strong country western nuance.

The blues is a territory where many get lost if not able to navigate the darkness, and where Espiritu feels right at home. The accompanying musicians, augmented by a horn section and strings, make "Ask Me 'Bout Nothin' But The Blues," an absolute stunner. They then take it down to the bottom with "Life Goes On," a barroom crawler where the sweat hits the floor. These two blues really highlight as to why Espiritu is such a potent vocalist. It's not the producers, or the band, but the singer who has to get up there and deliver the message, and the blues is unforgiving, you either have them or you don't.

Though this record was inspired around a Sugar Pie DeSanto theme, it was Aireene Espiritu who rose to the occasion. Stepping way out of her comfort zone, she ventured into a situation she had never experienced and dominated the outcome. Coming to America at age ten, she absorbed its music, took it to heart, and it became her calling. Living out of a car in Oakland, she deserves some of the rewards that having genuine talent should provide, placing her back where she belongs.

Track Listing: No More; Going Back To Where I Belong; The One Who Really Loves You; Witch For A Night; Bayan Ko; Down By The Riverside; Ask Me ‘Bout Nothin’ But The Blues; Can’t Let You Go; My Illusions; I Don’t Wanna Fuss; Dukha; Life Goes On; Oras Na.

Personnel: Aireene Espiritu: vocals, tenor ukulele; Kid Anderson: guitars, string and horn arrangements; June Core: drums; Steve Evans: bass; Jim Pugh: organ, piano; Robert Welsh; Maurice Tani: vocals; Lisa Leuschner Anderson: vocals; Ed Dualy: guitar, vocals; Bernie Quevedo: guitar, vocals; Carlos Zialcito: harmonica; Frankie ramos: saxophone; Eric Spaulding: saxophone; John Halblieb: trumpet; faris Jarrah: trombone; Derrick “D’Mar” Martin: percussion; Don Dally: violin, viola; Ari Freedman: cello.

Title: Back Where I Belong | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: The Little Village Foundation

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Submerged" CD/LP/Track Review Submerged
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 9, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Mopocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Mopocalypse
by Anthony Shaw
Published: January 25, 2018
Read "682/681" CD/LP/Track Review 682/681
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "Romaria" CD/LP/Track Review Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018