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Greg Spero

Idioma disponível: inglês
Greg Spero is a pianist, composer, arranger, producer, label boss, and 21st century music biz renaissance man. Leader of the electric jazz outfit Spirit Fingers, their music criss-crosses jazz-funk, post-bop, R&B, spiritual jazz, and electronica. Spero also runs the Tiny Room label and composes for film, television, and theater. His piano trio leader debut was 2005's Live in 25. Three years later, he recorded GMG with drummer Makaya McCraven and bassist Graham Czach. In 2010 he released Radio Over Miles. Acoustic followed in 2011 and Electric in 2014. Between 2014 and 2018, Spero served as touring keyboardist and sound designer with pop singer Halsey. His electric jazz quartet, Spirit Fingers, released their self-titled debut in 2018 and followed it with Peace in 2020. The following year he led the septet sessions for 2022's Chicago Experiment that also featured McCraven, Joel Ross, Marquis Hill, Jeff Parker, and Irvin Pierce. Spero was born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1985. His parents were both musicians: His mother was a classical pianist and his father, also a pianist, worked on the blues and jazz scenes in Chicago and produced rock bands. Continually inundated with the sound of the piano at home as his mother practiced her repertoire and his dad sometimes played boogie woogie, Spero began plunking out melodies on it when he was just three and became proficient on the instrument. He began writing songs in grade school. At 14, Spero played his first professional gigs with his dad's band the SlackDaddies and got to sit in with touring artists traveling through. In high school, he discovered jazz through his band director, sparking a life-long obsession with the genre and his constant need to challenge himself musically. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana and majored in Jazz Piano Performance and Music Composition. After graduating, Spero met Herbie Hancock at the Ravinia Festival. The iconic jazz musician became the younger man's mentor musically and spiritually, introducing him to Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism. In 2002, Spero and his band Bucket Shop issued the long-player Fossil Fuels in the House That Mouse Built, a futuristic exercise in funky jazz rock. Three years later he issued his debut piano trio outing titled Live in 25. Spero was gigging and touring with Chicago-based saxophonist Frank Catalano. He appeared on the leader's The Mighty Burner, recorded live at the Green Mill in 2005. The following year, Spero met Miles Davis' nephew, keyboardist and music director Robert Irving III. The chance meeting resulted in the two playing together on the latter's New Momentum, and helped Spero become a first-call referral for visiting players. Two years later, he played with drummer Makaya McCraven and bassist Graham Czach on GMG. In 2010, Spero issued the quartet set Radio Over Miles, offering a personal interpretive meld of the music of Radiohead and the electric jazz of Miles Davis with bassist Junius Paul, McCraven, and trumpeter Corey Wilkes. A year later, Spero returned the favor: He played with Paul, drummer Kahil El'Zabar, and others on Wilkes' Kind of Miles: Live at the Velvet Lounge. In 2012, the pianist issued the trio date Acoustic on Blu Jazz; his sidemen included McCraven on drums and Matt Ulery on bass, as did the follow-up Live in Toronto, recorded at Trane Studio in Toronto. After being named "Best Jazz Entertainer" at the 2013 Chicago Music Awards, Spero cut the trio album Electric with Paul and McCraven. The pianist moved to Los Angeles to serve as pianist/keyboardist and sound designer for Halsey. He began playing with her in clubs to crowds of 50-80 people; by the time he left they were showcasing in front of 15,000 and performing on Ellen, Late Night, and Saturday Night Live. During the early part of his tenure with Halsey, Spero was conceiving and writing for a new musical project. He formed Polyrhythmic in 2015 with internationally renowned bassist Hadrien Feraud, drummer Mike Mitchell, and guitarist Dario Chiazzolino, and after a few gigs changed their name to Spirit Fingers. Spero amicably left Halsey's employ in 2018. Spirit Fingers recorded their self-titled debut album at the pianist's Tiny Room Studio in Los Angeles and contracted with Shanachie to release it. It drew raves from the jazz press for its meld of '70s jazz fusion, electronics, 21st century pop, and hip-hop. it reached number 11 on the jazz album charts. Two years later, Spirit Fingers -- now with bassist Max Gerl replacing Feraud -- followed with Peace on Ropeadope. In addition to the quartet, the set featured guest vocalist Judi Jackson on four tracks as well Greg Ward and Braxton Cook on saxophones. It drew critical acclaim from as far away as Europe and Japan, and placed inside the Top 20. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Spero created weeBID, a fan-initiated crowd-funding platform. His other extracurricular musical project, Tiny Room Sessions, offers a weekly series of music made in his studio in Los Angeles. Digital singles from those performances were also released by artists including Transviolet, Lido, Terreon "Tank" Gully, Mono Neon, and others. In 2021, Ropeadope resurrected its "experiment" recordings series -- Philadelphia Experiment (2001), Detroit Experiment (2003), and Harlem Experiment (2007). The idea for the original project was to gather musicians connected to a city to reflect its geography and people by integrating its various representative musical cultures. The label approached Spero to helm sessions for Chicago Experiment. He gathered McCraven, trumpeter Marquis Hill, vibraphonist Joel Ross, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Darryl Jones, and tenor saxophonist Irvin Pierce as his collaborators. The 11-track set was released in February 2022; it criss-crossed jazz-funk, fusion, hip-hop, and post-bop, was co-composed by its participants, and produced by Spero.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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