350

Esperanza Spalding: Junjo

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Esperanza Spalding: Junjo The debut recording by this 22-year-old Berklee instructor and Portland, Oregon native features Brazilian-inflected jazz in the company of Cuban bandmates, released by a Spanish record label. Put that way, Junjo sounds terribly worldly and logistically complicated, but in fact the record comes across as an intimate affair executed with a light touch.

The Brazilian accent is most discernible when Spalding accompanies her bass playing with wordless singing (except on "Cantoro de Yala," which she sings, diffidently, in Spanish). This vein is well-known to jazz listeners: the music sometimes recalls Flora Purim's singing on Chick Corea's records, other times the up-tempo, melodically complex terrain covered by Maria Schneider on Concert in the Garden (Artist Share, 2005). The circular melody on "Mompouana" is an especially nice example, with a catchiness that would suit lots of radio airplay. Regrettably, jazz hits aren't so common anymore.

Spalding's bass playing has the same disingenuous and ingratiating charm as her singing, with more easy virtuosity as well. And indeed, that combination of characteristics imbues the entire date, right down to the selection of material (some good originals; a nicely bass-driven version of "The Peacocks").

The trio's playing has a slightly impromptu, rough and ready quality: this does not prevent splendid flashes of precision from pianist Aruan Ortiz, who is excellent throughout. Drummer Francisco Mela is slightly less subtle, sometimes knocking about a bit, but he's generally well-suited to the vaguely (or explicitly) Latin rhythms.

Junjo is not perfect: plenty of passages and some entire numbers don't exactly gel. But the whole project is so thoroughly infused with freshness that it almost doesn't matter. Spalding's first outing manages to be brash but not arrogant, eccentric but not abstruse, appealing but neither facile nor populist. A fine balance.


Track Listing: The Peacocks; Loro; Humpty Dumpty; Mompouana; Perazuan; Junjo; Cantora de Yala; Two Bad; Perazela.

Personnel: Esperanza Spalding: bass, voice; Francisco Mela: drums; Aruan Ortiz: piano.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Ayva Musica | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Doug Collette
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Two Steps from the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Two Steps from the Blues
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 18, 2016
Read "Everybody's Somebody's Nobody" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody's Somebody's Nobody
by John Sharpe
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Leaps In Leicester" CD/LP/Track Review Leaps In Leicester
by John Sharpe
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Komorebi" CD/LP/Track Review Komorebi
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!