This is it, the CD that launched the recording career of the now Grammy Award winning artist Esperanza Spalding. When released this project immediately grabbed the attention of fans and critics as an amazing release from a new leader in Jazz. Winning BEST NEW ARTIST at 53rd Annual Grammy Awards introduced her to a global audience, but Junjo was the foundation. 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. For her, this project is a dream come true. It is as a same time, her first CD as well as the first production under her direction. The trio is completed with the artistry of two excellent musicians, pianist Aruán Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela. 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.
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. 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." --Lloyd Sachs
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