Stephane Spira: New Playground


Self-taught French-born soprano saxophonist Spira spent many years on the Paris jazz scene before moving to New York in 2009 where five years later he recorded his third album In Between.

Another four years down the line we have New Playground, which in the words of Fred Bouchard, writing for the New York Jazz Record, is more of Spira’s “comfort jazz, honestly prepared with organic ingredients in a low-key setting”. So, if you like contemporary jazz, professionally presented, with the foot not always down on the pedal, this could be for you.

The leader brings a self-contained assurance to each composition (mainly his originals), maintaining a lyricism that can be used to turn up the heat on occasions but always staying well within the bounds of the soprano’s natural range. He can be soulful but an articulate story from his chosen instrument is paramount in all he does, delivered with total clarity.

His sidemen understand the message, constituting a tightly knit unit, whatever the tempo; pushing a little when necessary but never suggesting anything inappropriate. This is one of those releases that grows on you with multiple listening and should not be overlooked by modernists.

Peter’s Run; Gold Ring Variations; New York Windows; Underground Ritual; Nocturne (Song For My Son); New Playground; Kaleidoscope; Solid Wood (57.33)
Spira (ss); Joshua Richman (p, elp); Steve Wood (b); Jimmy Macbride (d). NYC, 3 & 4 September 2017.
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