Thank you so much to Tristan Geary from Sound of Boston for writing a wonderful review of The New Groove! I am so appreciative of the time they took to read up on my music, background, and inspiration behind the project.
Here are a few of my favorite lines:
Spear’s alto playing is incredibly relaxed, melodies and improvised lines are delivered with poise and ease that makes them sound like overlapping conversation.
sounds like a pocket-sized Duke Ellington big band
This track is loaded with blues articulations but Spear never over-blows, and each line is sparkling, clear, virtuosic but also singable.
I am excited to share plans for my next project! Inspired by the amazing creative work my friends have done in spite of COVID and motivated by Bandcamp’s first Friday initiative to help artists, I decided that I would release new, original music every month.
Last month, it was The New Groove. I was experimenting with new technology, trying to find meaning and humor in a confusing time. I am so grateful for all the support around this project. Thank you to everyone who has purchased, listened, dropped me a note, shared on social – you all are amazing!
My next project, which I intend to release on July 3rd, has been incredibly special. Inspired by Gunther Schuller’s book Early Jazz and by his Grammy-winning recording The Red Back Book, I decided to take a close look at Ragtime music. My initial plan was to just release an EP of my original rags. I knew I would need to do extensive research for this project and realized that I could – and should – find ways to share the story of this music with the people who know me and my music. The project has evolved to encompass an EP and a self-published collection of essays about Ragtime music. Many of the essays will also be available on my blog, some of which will inevitably overlap with my Encountering Gunther blog series.
I look forward to sharing this project with you and shining a light on this often overlooked art form that was so critical in the development of music in the United States.
I have wanted to put out music for a long time but was too afraid to do it. When will I be “good enough” at the saxophone? When will my compositions sound “original enough” to be worthy of being recorded? When will I have enough money to afford studio time, engineers, compensate musicians, promote, etc.? The pandemic made me realize that there will never be a “perfect” time to release music, that I will always be a work in progress, and that it’s about time to rip off the bandaid and put something out there!
I was really inspired by my peers and the amazing recordings, livestream concerts, and other creative pursuits they were accomplishing online. With the help of my boyfriend and YouTube, I learned how to use my new recording gear.
Then I started creating the music. My usual composition process involves me sitting at the piano and painstakingly try things out, writing them down on manuscript paper as I go. I took a different approach this time. I wrote all the songs starting from my saxophone. I thought more about layering different sounds/textures instead of long melodic lines. I incorporated some effects like distortion, echoes, octave doublings, and more. I never thought I would create music with such a strong technological component. But I realized that now is a time to try new things and step out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad I did!
My heart is so heavy for this country. I am horrified by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the continued oppression and brutality our black brothers and sisters continue to face. We need to do better.
It is not lost on me that I owe a great debt to black artists for their contributions to American music. I must credit my late mentor Bobby Jackson for teaching me that “jazz” (this is not a unanimously accepted word to describe the music) was not created in a vacuum. It is of its time, reflecting the conditions under which it was created. Because of Bobby’s teachings, I began prioritized learning the history (they don’t teach you in school) surrounding the creation and development of “jazz” and reading the memoirs of its innovators. I still have much to learn.
After some soul searching, I decided to follow through with releasing my EP, The New Groove, on Bandcamp tomorrow as planned. It is an uncomfortable time to be promoting and releasing new music. I do not want my music to detract from the important work that needs to be done to make this country live up to its ideals for all who live here. I already announced the wrong release date once and I feel strange about postponing the release again. Also, I want to be able to move forward from this project and start working on new music for you all. I hope The New Groove brings you comfort during this uncertain time.
I am thinking of you all during these trying times. Let’s build a better future with compassion and music.
Cab Calloway and Minnie the Moocher – A couple of nights ago, I was on YouTube and the following video showed up as a recommendation. I am not sure why I decided to click, but I am so glad I did. … [Read More]
Encountering Gunther: Reminiscing in Tempo – It was surprising to read about this groundbreaking piece that, after many years of being a devout Ellington fan and earning a degree in jazz composition, I never encountered before … [Read More]
Miss My Blog? – I miss it, too! Just when I felt like I was getting in a groove, the world got turned on its head …. [Read More]