January 12th, 2020 9pm Stage 1
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Greg Spero’ Spirit Fingers
Spirit Fingers is a contemporary jazz quartet based in Los Angeles born during the breakout of West Coast Get Down scene that birthed Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Miles Mosley, and many others. Their sound combines the very best of early-'70s jazz fusion (complete with ambitious tempo shifts and key changes), hip-hop, pop, and modern funk.
Spero -- bandleader, pianist, and chief composer and arranger -- is a formally trained musician with a degree in Music Composition and Jazz Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his school career, Spero met Herbie Hancock at the Ravinia Festival and the elder musician took him under his wing and introduced him not only to new ways of hearing and writing music in his head, but also to Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism; Spero has been a practitioner ever since.
Before moving to Los Angeles, he played with drummer Makaya McCraven, saxophonist Frank Catalano, trumpeter Marquis Hill, and others on the Windy City scene. After moving to the West Coast, Spero became a touring and studio musician and the musical director for Halsey. He formed Spirit Fingers in 2015 with internationally renowned bassist Hadrien Feraud, drummer Mike Mitchell, and guitarist Dario Chiazzolino.
After his first tour with Halsey, Spero was exhausted from the road and undergoing the end of a personal relationship; he sought a way of wedding his newfound pop and urban influences with those of his formal musical training in jazz and fusion. After setting out on the road again, he spent each evening after gigs in the bus composing music for the band he envisioned. After returning from the Halsey tour, he tried out the music he had written and arranged with some heavy-hitter musicians in Chicago. His manager Mark Cavanaugh heard the new sounds and told him to pursue this direction, leading the pianist to undertake an exodus to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, he began scoring television commercials and film scores. He worked with rappers and members of the West Coast Get Down before finding the perfect balance of players for Spirit Fingers. All were top-flight studio and performance personnel. The band's early live performances were celebrated by everyone from Hancock to local DJs to industry personnel. They signed to Shanachie in 2017 and commenced cutting their self-titled debut album co-produced by Spero and McCraven, and executive-produced by Cavanaugh. The recording was issued in the spring of 2018. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi