Esperanza Spalding - Junjo
Label: Ayva Musica
Cat #: AYVLP36
Format: Vinyl, LP
• Limited Edition
• High-Quality 180g Vinyl LP
Released: 13 Sep 2011
2006 (original release )
A1 The Peacocks 7:56
A2 Loro 5:06
A3 Mompouana 5:51
A4 Perazuan 7:51
B1 Humpty Dumpty 3:39
B2 Cantora De Yala 5:13
B3 Junjo 4:55
B4 Two Bad 6:59
B5 Perazela 1:32
Esperanza Spalding, vocals, bass
Aruan Ortiz, piano
Francisco Mela, drums
Recorded April 6 & 7, 2005 at PBS Studios, Westwood, MA
Junjo boasts an unusual format: A young American woman playing bass and singing wordless vocals with the accompaniment of a Cuban pianist and drummer. But 22-year-old Esperanza Spalding, an Oregon native who teaches at Boston's Berklee College of Music, is so confident in her multiple roles (she also produced the album, released on a Spanish label) and the music goes down so easily, all awareness of her band's makeup quickly fades.
JUNJO, the first musical production under the direction of this American artist, Esperanza gives her touches to pieces that range from the modern jazz trio to contemporary Brazilian music, to Argentine folk music.
With their lighter-than-air quality, the tunes sometimes recall early Return to Forever (an association underlined by the inclusion of a Chick Corea composition) and her playing boasts the warm, richly amplified quality favored by many young bassists. But with pianist Aruan Ortiz stretching and shaping the melodies, Junjo is winningly personal. In addition to several originals by Spalding, alone or in collaboration with Ortiz or her drummer, Francisco Mela, it includes a smart and playful reworking of Jimmy Rowles' classic, "The Peacocks."
For me, Esperanza Spalding's debut album was pure listening joy. This is a jazz in its purest, undiluted sense. Not only does Spalding play the bass well, she's a great singer as well. Spalding scats on many of the songs (except when she sings the "Cantora de Yala", which is a Argentinian folk song that she sings in Spanish). She's has such a sweet pleasant voice -- one can only hope that she'll sing even more in the future. The song sounds a lot like Brazilian sambas/bossa novas (which I love listening too). She does it all so well too. Spalding also reworks some classic jazz pieces like "Humpty Dumpty" and "The Peacocks".
Her bass solo (the arrangement and her playing) on "Mompouana" is just so wonderful and cool, it almost had me literally tears. Just brilliant.
To me, the title track "Junjo" sums up Spalding's style -- which is playful, savvy, sophisticated, feminine and joyful. But there are many moods expressed throughout the album -- I guess it depends on the listener what they will get from each abstract song.
JUNJO has Esperanza's personal seal: the superb sense of time that she possesses and always succeeds in communicating to her audiences, and her great devotion to the instrument she plays.
Esperanza Spalding - Cantora de Yala
Esperanza Spalding discusses and performs "Cantora de Yala" from her 2006 release, Junjo.
Esperanza Spalding - The Peacocks
this is quite good...kind of trippy, but what stands out most is her ability to sing... without words. literally.
Esperanza Spalding - Two Bad
Esperanza Spalding - Mompouana
she does not conform, she dances to her own beat!