Author: Bladimir Taveras

Esperanza Spalding – Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz 2012

Born in Portland, Oregon, the great Esperanza Spalding a female bassist and singer performs in ” Festival de jazz de Vitoria – Gasteiz”  located in Vitoria, Spain. Esperanza Spalding plays upright bass and also electric bass. She is one of the female bassist that I’ve witness who has mastered the bass. First song of the festival is titled, ” hold on me”. The beginning of the piece begins with Spalding singing great melodies and lyrics with also responding with her upright. Her communications with musicians show how great discipline they have to work with her singing and not playing over her. She ends the first piece with a long voice line which surprised the audience with her great voice. Spalding has great Melisma skills with her voice which leads her voice to what ever shes playing on the bass. Her second piece “smile like that” it’s more of a modern jazz piece which starts out with a Bossa style and leads into a modern jazzy pop tune, like Herbie Hancock. The piece sounds very dissonant on the solo. Soloing on dissonant changes can be difficult for a musician to lose focus on the changes. Her winds section really take their solos to a new level. And the best part is, the bass just follows along with whats happening. Jeff Lee Johnson is the guitar and he sounds very versatile the way he switches from a jazz sound to a heavy rock sound. Every time he changes the sound, he also changes the melodic style of his performance and solos. The third piece is titled, ” Cinnamon Tree” and she grabs her electric bass which for me is just amazing. Her tone on the electric bass is incredible and just for a fact, finding a great tone on the electric is sometimes complicated. Her bass sounds as if she were to use the neck pickup, but shes adding a lot of rhythmic elements that sound like she was influenced by Jaco a bit. On the ending solo, Jeff Lee Johnson takes a solo and he pulls out his blues sound which could influenced by B.B King or other blues guitarist. This piece mostly focuses on Johnson’s guitar solo throughout the end. Spalding’s wind players are also versatile in which they do chorus lines while the solos are happening. Her fourth piece is titled, “Black Gold” which starts with a gospel style. This piece features Spalding and her trumpet player Igmar Thomas on voice. Her fifth piece “Radio Song” could be compared to soul bands like James Brown but incorporated with jazz. On that same piece, Spalding announces all of her musicians that performed on this festival which are, Jef Lee Johnson – guitar, Leo Genovese – piano, keyboards, Jeff Galindo – trombone, Corey King – trombone, Daniel Blake – tenor sax, Aaron Burnett – tenor sax, Tia Fuller – alto sax, Igmar Thomas – trumpet, Lyndon Rochelle – drums, and Chris Turner – vocals. Esperanza Spalding has been one of the female bass players to play seriously and professional. Her communication throughout her instrument is something that other players could take into consideration and use it for their performance as well.

Chick Corea – Three Quartets Band – Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd

Chick Corea is known as one of the greatest pianist and composer that jazz has to offer. Chick is known for his famous jazz compositions such as “Got a match?” , “Spain”, and etc. He performed a concert on April 22, 2003 at the Blue Note Club in New York City. In this performance, Chick has three great musicians right beside him which did an outstanding job. Michael Brecker – saxophone, Steve Gadd – drums and Eddie Gomez – upright bass (also a bass player I admire). Before starting the first piece, chick speaks to the audience and explains how his music career was divided between Classical music and Jazz. As a jazz performer, he also incorporates many techniques from the classical era into jazz to give it more organizations and his pieces are going to be presented as Qua

rtet No. 1, Quartet No. 2, etc just like classical music.

Quartet No.1 starts off with a piano introduction which the upright bass responds to. Chick’s piano playing brings energy to the musicians as if he were playing percussive rhythm melodies. I’ve noticed his playing pushes the musicians to respond faster and come up with creative improvised solos. The first solo is started by Michael Brecker on saxophone. Brecker begins his solo playing long notes looking for an open spot to enter his solos. If any one could notice on his solo, he stopped and smiled which can be a way to express or communicate with the musicians or the crowd in Jazz. He also hits high notes which has a similar timbre to the trumpet. Brecker begins to switch over to chromatic scales and his tone starts to turn distorted. By watching Brecker, I compare him to Charlie Parker with his fast fingering. (If any one can compare to another sax player please do so)

As the saxophone softly finishes off his solo, Chick continues off and closes the solo with some melodic lines on the piano which are jazz melodic ideas but with the techniques of Baroque music. After his melodic line, piano and bass perform a Tutti together and introduce Eddie Gomez on upright bass. Gomez starts his playing high notes on the upright like as if he’s telling the crowd “it’s my turn to solo”. The upright bass is one of the instruments that is really difficult to play fast scales and to add on, there are no frets on the upright. The way Gomez solos on the upright, reminds me of Charles Mingus. Mingus played a lot of fast scales which Gomez might of inherit and played on this performance. As anyone could notice, Gomez sings what he plays on his solo. The bass and drums have a unique relationship when it comes to walking. It also sounds as if Gomez inherits a lot of Ray Brown’s walking techniques. In this performance Chick Corea gets together a quartet of creative musicians. aside from their great harmonic features, these musicians bring together chemistry that makes it seem as if they were playing together for many years or in other words, they work as a team which is really important in a ensemble.

Jaco Pastorius – Live at Montreal Jazz Festival

It must have been a great experience to sit down and enjoy the good musical performance of Jaco Pastorius. Pastorius was a virtuoso bass player, who modernized the electric bass guitar playing skills using music theory and his amazing ear training. This concert took place in Montreal, Canada on 1982. The concert was involved with great musicians, which the following were, Jaco pastorius (bass), Peter Erskine (drums), Othello Molineaux (steel drums) ,Don Alias ( congas/percussion), Bobby Mintzer (saxophone), Randy Brecker (trumpet). With no introduction the band starts right of the bat with “The chicken”, a jazz tune composed by Pee Wee Ellis and made famously by jaco Pastorius. The band performed the piece different than the original. They have incorporated new modern rhythms and made it into a funky jazz tune. I guess they have been influenced by other musical styles that were around in the 80’s. As usual in jazz performances, every musician gets to solo in the performance. I was amazed the way Bobby Mintzer (saxophone) started off the solo using a tenor saxophone. Even though Mintzer was performing with a tenor, I’ve noticed a lot of Charlie Parker movements in his solo. Using a lot of chromatic ideas in his solo Mintzer managed to layout an incredible solo. Now one thing I found unusual were the steel drums. Aside from being an amazing bass player, Pastorius was also an experimenter which tried new instruments in his ensembles. I’m guessing Jaco replaced the jazz vibraphone with steel drums in order to receive a new sound and identity to his ensemble. Othello Molineaux (steel drums) did not only bring a Caribbean instrument into the performance, he also played an incredible solo on the first piece. He incorporated a lot of funky blues and jazz scales which is a usual role of the vibraphone in jazz. On the next piece, Bobby Mintzer grabs his bass clarinet and performs a spectacular solo by himself which leads slowly in to “Donna Lee”. Donna lee is a famous jazz tune composed by Charlie Parker on alto sax. But again, Jaco made the jazz tune even more famous when he performed the saxophone part on electric bass guitar. Donna lee is a fast tempo Bebop tune which I found really amazing when trumpeter Randy Brecker, played the melody line, as it was no big deal. Aside from playing the melody, he also laid down a great solo. As anyone would noticed, Brecker performed the same accents as the alto saxophone does in a solo, which I believe would be more difficult on the trumpet than the Saxophone. Finally, Jaco Pastorius gets his own chance to solo by himself and shows the crowd his best. He starts his solo by using harmonic notes on E minor while having a percussive bass rhythm in the background accompanying his solo. After his percussive solo, he slightly goes into the chord changes of “America” which he performs as a solo piece on the electric bass. Jaco Pastorius is considered the best of all time. Not because of his experiments, but because of his musicianship. It must of been great witnessing a great bass player with a great jazz band, live.