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Thursday, February 09, 2012

CD Review: Greg Spero – ‘Acoustic’ blujazz 2011

Chicago pianist Greg Spero’s new recording has moved, in musical terms, a long way from his 2010 recording, Radio over Miles – an electro-homage to his early influences from Radiohead and Miles Davis.
However, this trio album still has the distinctive melodic phrasing and dark harmonic twists of its predecessor.
There’s a long line of great pianists to compare Spero to, but the late Esbjorn Svensson seems the most obvious choice on listening to his output to date. And this despite his worship of fellow Chicagoan Herbie Hancock and a confession to being unaware of EST’s music …….until now that is!
Acoustic sees Greg joined by long time collaborator Makaya McCraven on drums and Matt Ulery on bass in what is a thoughtful, imaginative and wonderfully melodic recording.
All tracks are Spero compositions with the exception of Miles Davis’ Blue in Green.
It’s hard to pick a stand out track as they are all in the top drawer.
The opener Hills bounces along merrily and is instantly memorable. However, it’s the aptly named Flow that begins to demonstrate the extraordinary talent that Spero is, as phrases and runs flow effortlessly from his hands.
Letting it Go is a slow reflective piece with McCraven’s delicate cymbal work and Matt Uley’s full bass tone helping to create a beautiful soundscape which allows ample space for all three instruments to flourish.
Universe however, with its strong and dramatic intro, seems inspired by the creation of our world, the gentle emergence of new life, and the turmoil that our existence can sometimes become. If that’s what was intended, then this trio have certainly pulled it off. If there is to be a top track on this album – this is it.
It’s going to be a long time before this CD drifts into my CD racks from its current, top of the player, position.
It certainly is a truly remarkable recording!
David Gosling.
PS: Late News Flash: As well as Zeffirelli's on April 7,  Spero is lined up to play a Splinter @ The Bridge gig the following evening, April 8. This will be with Adrian Tilbrook on drums and Andy Champion on bass.

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