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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Sunday, 03 February 2019 00:00

Spirit Fingers - Spirit Fingers

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If Red Bull did jazz, Spirit Fingers would give you wings.

Some groups like to take the safe route with the standard music structure. For the most part, the melodious “one-two-three-four” time signature works for the populous and will continue to do so until the foreseeable future. 

But what about when you want to shake things up as Dave Brubeck did with his 1959 album Time Out?

Listening to Spirit Fingers is a breath of fresh air. Their approach is full of intricate time signatures, and you’ll certainly hear some jazz standard, contemporary and a feel of classical cadence.

I am so late out of the starting block with this group, and there is so much music being churned out, it is difficult to keep up with who’s who and what’s what.

According to The Evolution and Equilibrium of Copyright in the Digital Age published by Cambridge University Press 2014 (page 292),” SoundScan estimates that the number of new albums released increased from just under 40,000 albums in 1999 to a peak of over 100,000 album “. Billboard states “Literally hundreds of new albums are released each week and arrive at Billboard's offices, all seeking print and online reviews and/or mentions. It is physically impossible to cover all of them within the magazine or online...” This number is likely to have doubled if not trebled with the emergence of home recording thanks to Ableton, Cubase and the digitisation of everything. 

It’s no wonder that I had not heard of Spirit Fingers prior to September 2018; introduced to me by jazz oracle and aficionado ‘Jazz Crusader’ aka Hugh Chambers.

The album is co-produced by Greg Spero and Makaya McCraven. That’s got my attention already.

The line-up also boasts Parisian bassist Hadrien Feraud (Chick Corea), Dallas drum prodigy Mike Mitchell (Stanley Clark) and Italian guitarist Dario Chiazzolino (Billy Cobham). A quick journey via Google will unveil volumes on the above artist as demand for their work expands like a supernova.

Spirit Fingers are the new kids on the block and stand firmly in the journal spotlight. Their fan base is growing exponentially especially in Europe. I have lost count of the number of gigs they have performed in 2018 alone. 

The CD liner notes are comprehensive that include the timing signatures used for each track. I don’t read music; however, I could immediately see that a tremendous amount of effort has been invested in to the presentation. The last time I read this amount of detail in liner notes was on a limited-edition Japanese Jazz Fusion CD, that came with a mini-technical manual detailing the mixing desk the setting. This is reflected in the quality of the production in terms of compression. It is well balanced and I sense parallel compression may have been used to deliver this polished finish.

This is Spirit Fingers' first album featuring 12 tracks.

"Inside is the most jubilant and straight forward of the compositions I wrote for Spirit Fingers” writes composer Greg Spero. The intro is a layered classical piece played over a quick time signature. The Feeling is ethereal as the bass fades in and out under the skilful fingers of Spero. You can distinctly hear left hand pulsating the lower bass octaves as right high hand conveys the melodic chorus.

Find is certainly my favourite track on the album. That is not to say the other tracks are of exceptional high-production quality. However, the signature played at 13/16- and 17/16-time signatures. These complex pieces fit perfectly and what you are presented with is a fine fusion of jazz and classical music. Hadrien Feraud take a bow. The bass solo is intense. So joyous and skilful is this tune, it is like musical confetti.

One of the shortest tracks on this album is Space. Possibly more reminiscent of classical movement, however, adds balanced variety to this album. As simple as it sounds, this piece may be the most technically challenged and is played flawlessly. There is a natural and pleasing flow to the order of the notes. Bravo, bravo and bravo! 

Although Greg Spero is widely known and acknowledged as the frontman to this collective, it has been said that "no man is an island. No one is self-sufficient”. Together Spirit Fingers make a great team and create award-winning music. Together, they deserve the accolades and the applause.

Take my advice and don't resist the urge to move to the music.



Greg Spero - Pianist

Hadrien Feraud - Bass

Mike Mitchell - Drums

Dario Chazzolino - Guitar


Label: Shanachie

Read 2345 times Last modified on Sunday, 03 February 2019 08:21

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