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The Christine Spero Group

The Christine Spero Group

The Christine Spero Group

You're based in Tannersville, New York... Can you give us some background on this small village?

At elevation 2,500 feet, Tannersville is a beautiful, little village in the Catskill Forest Preserve in the northern Catskill Mountains and is called "The Village in the Sky." It is adjacent to the ski center of Hunter, 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. The village was featured in a NY Times article a couple of years ago, when every building in town was painted in rich, pastel colors. It's a nice, quiet place to live and raise a family.

How does living in the state of New York influence and inspire your art?

New York is a beautiful state and I am privileged to be living in what I think is the prettiest area. I grew up in Queens and Long Island and my family moved here so that we could have a peaceful quiet life away from the cities we had known. Not that I don't occasionally miss the cultural experiences but I wouldn't trade them for the waterfalls, creeks, mountain views, colors, wildlife and the alone time I have to nurture my musical ideas.

On my new CD, MY SPANISH DREAM I have a song called, "A Prayer" that I wrote specifically for a September 11th memorial. Being a New Yorker I was very much affected by the attack and this song was a catharsis for me. Each time that I listen to it I tap into the same emotions that I felt that day.

Your songwriting style is very unique in that it's jazz with a story... or maybe you describe it differently? And on that note, can you give us a little info on the song you wrote for you son, "Just So You Know"?

My writing is influenced by jazz, but my goal is not so much all about soloing but about feelings and images that I can give to people through my melodies, lyrics and harmonies. I've always loved stories in music. And my musical evolution brought me to a place where I can express myself in the jazz genre while still telling a story. Some of my songs are about love and other songs, like "My Spanish Dream", is a song of longing because Spain is one of the places I'd love to see and the visions that I have from Spanish literature and music are something that I wanted to place in a musical context. My music blends different styles, and the result is unique.

My grandmother was a classical pianist and there was a lot of Bach, Segovia, Rimsky-Korsakov, Johnny Smith, and Ella played at home.Besides singing and playing piano in church and school I was in pop harmony groups. When I was young, I worked with Neil Sedaka and Don Kirschner on the RCA label. We recorded some of the first songs I ever wrote, and it was a great experience.

I then moved to San Francisco to attend college for music and botany and became a member of Bob Braye's Peace and Rhythm Unit. I was the Winner of the USA Songwriting Competition/Jazz category with my song, "He Wasn't Always That Way" and Finalist with "Caribbean Nights".

You mentioned my song, "Just So You Know" from MY SPANISH DREAM. It is about a journey across the country on mountain bikes that my son, Jake and his college friend, Dave took. They traveled from Buffalo, New York to Burbank, California, pulling 65 lb. trailers to raise money for Cradle Beach, a camp for handicapped children in Buffalo. I lived that trip through Jake's eyes and in the back of my mind I kept what he told me of his experiences. The vivid pictures he'd leave me with after each phone call home later came out in my song. The riders had to race to make the fireworks at Mount Rushmore on the 3rd of July and I'm sure that their wheels hummed through the marvelous, majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The "moonscape on the earth" is the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho... I pictured them riding through a sea of lava flows; through weird and scenic landscapes of cinder cones and sagebrush. This song is dedicated to them and their amazing feat. Currently Jake is riding from Alaska to Argentina with a team of four riders to raise money for a school in Nicaragua. His site is

You're getting significant attention from radio and fans around the world on your latest release MY SPANISH DREAM, congratulations! It must be an exciting time for you and the group?

We are elated that the response around the world is so positive. To be able to touch people with my music from so far away is awesome. MY SPANISH DREAM is playing in over 20 countries and the radio programmers are very impressed. We are getting calls from journalists around the world who want to review the album because of a lot of Internet activity as well (CDBaby, Amazon, and international radio promotion). We have entered into a partnership with Burnside Distribution and our sales are reaching all parts of the globe! All of this comes at a perfect time as we gear up to play some major festivals in 2008.

Fill us in on the Christine Spero Group -- Who's in the ensemble?

I am the pianist/singer/composer of all the music on both of our CDs, WE CALL IT MUSIC and MY SPANISH DREAM. Elliot Spero, produced both CDs and plays the tenor/soprano saxes and percussion. On our first CD, my husband Buck Spero was on bass and Curtis Watts on drums. On MY SPANISH DREAM Mike Woinoski and Jody Sumber joined us on bass and drums. Currently our rhythm section is bassist, Charlie Kniceley who has played with Ron Carter, Joe Beck, Jack DeJohnette and also on bass, Scott Petito (James and Livingston Taylor, Michael Franks, Stevie Wonder) and Cuban drummer T. Xiques who has played with Savoy Brown, Mike Maineri, Larry Coryell, Jewel, Garth Hudson.

Who are your personal musical influences and what artists influence the band as a unit?

My influences are quite eclectic. As a young child, I was steeped in Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. Then I was in love with the music of Laura Nyro. She was a strong force for me. When I heard Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sergio Mendes and Brazil ' 66 I was so struck with their voices and voicings and beautiful Brazilian rhythms that my writing and playing began to evolve further. Then I heard Miles' "In A Silent Way" and my life was changed. What followed was a waterfall of beautiful players like Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Woody Shaw and so many others. Elliot has drawn upon the music of John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and as a percussionist, Guilherme Franco and Giovanni Hidalgo. As far as the group as a whole, we've had some great players in the rhythm section and each one brings something different to the sound of the group.

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