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"Methodically, without any wasted notes, Spira's debut as a bandleader could be the first chapter in a long and beautiful story - a love story...he's developed a full, hot, slinky sound, devoid of clichés but imbued with a close listen to the masters: Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Stan Getz." - Culture Jazz

Entre Paris
New York,
un océan.
Un saxophoniste français vit à New York.
Son souffle résonne par delà l'océan, nous contant les va et viens de la vie d'une âme qui a trouvé son refuge doré.
Il rêve en cinémascope
franchissant la distance qui sépare le burlesque de Cosmaner
et sa nostalgie de Dawn in Manhattan.
Les rythmes de New York se mêlent à la fantaisie parisienne... Truffaut rencontre Woody Allen.

Stéphane Spira (Jazzmax)

by Fred Bouchard

French saxophonist Stéphane Spira makes good on this Paris studio date with stateside bandmates and a New York underground vibe. Voices in this chordless quartet—Steve Wood’s bass, Johnathan Blake’s drums and Glenn Ferris’ trombone—speak genially in muted, unhurried collegiality. Places and voices recalled herein include Capetown highlife of Abdullah Ibrahim (“Cosmaner”), sinewy long-limbed Chicago jazzfunk of Ray Anderson (“Flight”) and breathy echoes here and there of Parisian saxophonist Barney Wilen in Miles Davis’ 1957 soundtrack to François Truffaut’s Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud.

The set eases along—gentle, reflective, funny— with a genial lyricism prevailing, not subjecting the listener to gratuitous wizardry, but adhering to pure lines and satisfying formulas. Wood’s loping bass and Blake’s restless mallets neatly set up the horns on many tunes: the relaxed melody of “Dawn In Manhattan” with soprano and trombone in hesitant phrases; tenor and muted trombone on “A Special Place”.

Longer tracks are deeply sustained ballads by diverse master composers. Ferris’ heart-stopping arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Reflections in D” evolves out of sustained bowed bass of “In Transit” and is steeped in meditative hush—until its bright bolero valedictory chorus with poignant horn harmonies. “Samba em Preludio”, a sweet paean by Brazilians Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes, harkens back to Spira’s 2010 Tom Jobim tribute. The leader’s comfort jazz, honestly prepared with organic ingredients in a low-key setting, invites revisiting.

For more information, visit This project is at the cell on Dec. 6th. 

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Earlier Event: December 5
Later Event: December 7
CCO - Sabina Spielrein