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My Spanish Dream

The Christine Spero Group

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Album Review

Even before Christine Spero began recording with her dynamic quartet, she was earning numerous accolades for her melodic, emotionally powerful, and soulful songwriting. In 2004, she won the Jazz Category in the USA Songwriting Competition for "He Wasn't Always That Way." She was also a finalist in the 2002 competition for "Caribbean Nights," a festive tropical celebration that typifies the joyful exotica that drives My Spanish Dream. Based on the compelling songwriting on the other richly rhythmic, soaring tracks, there are probably more certificates in her future given the material on the group's second indie recording. Yet as strong and poetic as her writing is on tracks like the easy swinging, samba flavored title track, the jaunty, percussive "Don't Say No," and the haunting ballad "My Prayer," it's her joyful vocal performances (including some wordless passages) and lively piano chordings and improvisations (particularly on the expansive title track) that really bring the music to memorable life. Spero is the compelling multi-talented focal point throughout, but she's clearly having a great time trying to keep up with the relentless rhythm section of Mike Woinoski (bass) and Jody Sumber (drums). The project was produced by Elliot Spero, who does multiple duties on soprano and tenor saxes as well as percussion. Away from the quartet, Christine and Elliot Spero perform sometimes as a duo that mixes Brazilian and pop flavors à la Brasil '66. The big vocal sound of '60s flavored Sergio Mendes recordings shines though most of the tracks, but there's also some heavier jazz blowing beneath the breezes on tracks like the instrumental "Raiisha," a powerful duet by the Speros over the tight rhythm section.

My Spanish Dream, The Christine Spero Group
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