Wonderful times this year in New Jersey, bringing folks the music of Laura (and some of my own tunes). Thank you all who came out to this unique concert. On the way, tomorrow to bring Spero Plays Nyro to Nighttown in Cleveland, Ohio! Can't wait and hope to get some good pics and video! Coming to House concert in Rhode Island on Nov 5 and Outpost in the Burbs in New Jersey on Feb 10th, 2017! More shows to come!

I was very fortunate to have attended, on March 26, 2016, a performance, at LIU Post – Long Island University’s Hillwood Commons Recital Hall, of Spero Plays Nyro, this being the wonderful singer/pianist Christine Spero and her band performing songs by the late, much-lamented Laura Nyro, who died in 1997 at the absurdly young age of 49.

Growing up in the late 1960s on Long Island and listening to the AM radio of the day, I had two favorite songwriters, Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro. I’ve been able to see Webb in performance several times and even met him in person, but never had the chance to see Ms. Nyro in concert. As consolation prizes go, Ms. Spero’s Nyro show was quite a nice one and probably as close as I’ll get to the original.

Laura Nyro

Spero presented a lovely mix of Nyro’s better-known songs (having gotten that way courtesy of such performers as The Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Three Dog Night), lesser-known gems, the songwriter’s own recordings that charted, and even an original Spero composition, Laura and John, about Nyro’s admiration for John Coltrane.

These were all performed by Spero and her band with the wonderful longing, drive and soul that characterized Nyro’s recordings. The performances were never straight-up, note-for-note recreations, but were in fact expansions of the songs inherent jazz, blues, gospel and R&B elements. In that sense, this was Nyro re-interpreted, something I suspect she may have appreciated.

The fine band was bassist Scott Petito, drummer Peter O’Brien and saxophonist/ percussionist Elliot Spero. They were solid throughout, and truly seemed to enjoy the stretching of the jazz elements in a number of the tunes that gave them solos, in which Elliot Spero was especially effective on both tenor and soprano sax. Being a lapsed (and not very good to begin with) bassist, I kept hoping the excellent Petito would take an extended solo, but alas. The steady and creative O’Brien has wonderful dynamic control.

My only wish for future performances of Spero Plays Nyro would be that Ms. Spero would speak more about Nyro herself, and the circumstances under which the songs were written. That aside, this is a marvelous, spirited show that brings the great Laura Nyro back to life as much as can be reasonably hoped for.

Sorry, I haven't written in awhile but once the holidays hit it's all a blur! We had such memorable times meeting so many Laura fans at shows last year. One woman, Esther, I believe said that she used to sing in the bathroom with Laura when they attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan.                                                                                                                           

It's so great to hear first hand stories. One man came up to me to tell me that he and his partner owned a record store in NYC. They received Eli and the Thirteenth Confession from Columbia when it had just come out. They promptly put it on and fell in love! They had been playing it a lot when one day, a girl with long dark hair and an older woman came in. They said are you the lady on this record and sure enough it was Laura and her mom, Gilda! I knew that Laura was an animal rights advocate, but this fellow told me that she told him that she would wear only plastic shoes!                               

So I'll get to more stories.

A couple reminiscences: the first time I saw Laura was in Chicago at the opera house. This was I believe 1968 or 1969. She was solo with the piano on this very large stage. Most of the girls and young women were dressed, of course, in black. There was a bit of a gasp when Laura floated out onto the stage in a gorgeous melon red dress. Heresy!? Time for a wardrobe change! At one point she, in a breathy voice, leaned into  the microphone, looked out at the vast, darkened audience, and whispered " "It's all so big in here and you're all so far away".  Which of course immediately shrank the room to a very intimate space. At the end she was given a dozen red roses but then burst into tears and rushed off the stage. As I look back on it and know now more about her moods I wonder whether she was in the midst of some kind of emotional turmoil that was more than just the emotions of performing. Who knows?

My other most moving memory is meeting her father at a performance of Eli's Coming at the Vineyard Theatre off Union Square (sort of West Side Story meets Nyro--great dancers). This was several years after she died. The manager of the theater said " Here's somebody you might want to meet". I was so surprised to meet Lou, such a very gentle, humble man. He talked about her with such love and affection. At one point his eyes welled up and he said "I miss her so much. And I miss her mother."

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/singer-christine-spero-pays-tribute-to-laura-nyro-s-legacy-1.10206888

Wonderful interview with Glenn Gamboa of Newsday on April 8th, concidentally the anniversary of Laura's passing in 1997. We will be playing her beautiful music with Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Blues Project as part of My Father's Place's Live Concert Series tomorrow, April 10th. Should be a moving experience with new friends and lovers of Laura's music. Thank you Laura for pouring your heart and soul out to us and leaving us with your spiritual music.

Christine is keeping Laura's flame burning strong!

“Laura’s music is in fine hands with Christine Spero who is a terrific musician. She can play and sing Laura’s songs like few others. She knows this music inside out, and rises to the challenge on each song singing with expressiveness and power. At times her voice sounds like she could be Laura’s twin sister! It's such challenging music to sing, and she does it so beautifully.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone who's voice naturally sounds as much like Laura's as Christine's does (although it is certainly distinguished in it's own way). I also thoroughly enjoyed Christine's original song, "Laura and John". The arrangements are true to Laura’s originals but with some sweet creative touches as well. The band members are all pros and Christine can really play that piano! Laura’s fans should really enjoy this recording. Christine is a very talented woman, and I'm so glad she did such a beautiful job with my sister's music." Jan Nigro - Brother of Laura Nyro
                                                                                                                                                                  Well, now that I've caught my breath, let me tell you some stories that were given to meet by fine Laura fans (and I hope that I tell it right!)  The man came from Cleveland with his buddies to New York City. They were walking around town when they decided to take a rest. The man went over to the fountain in Washington Square Park and sat there by the fountain pool. He looks over and who is sitting there, but Laura Nyro herself! He was in awe and too nervous to introduce himself as a fan but he thought, "if I could come to a city like New York and wind up sitting in a park next to Laura Nyro then I'm moving here!" And he did! He became quite successful there, too.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Laura's attorney, Alan Bomser who represented her with David Geffen in signing with Columbia Records came to our show.  He loved it and told me a story about meeting Laura for the first time. He and David went to her apartment and she and her not so welcoming German Shepherd greeted them and she told them that she made them dinner. They all sat down to eat the baked chicken and it was raw! They wound up eating her famous tuna fish sandwiches.
I've met Laura's photographer, Robert Altman, who by the way has a photo on the cover of the Cd,her road manager, Lee Housekeeper, her good friend, Steve Katz who we sometimes perform with. He's got some good stories. I'll put them up next time.  So, it's a trip and I'm really enjoying it. More stories to come.

We have been playing for the most amazing crowds of Laura's fans and making new friends through her music.  Thank you all for coming out and supporting our efforts and the genius of Laura Nyro. Thanks also to all of the venues who invited us to play and believe in this show. I've been hearing the greatest Laura stories from folks who knew her. I will be posting them soon.    

It's been 17 years since Laura Nyro's passing and her spirit and music are still stronger than ever. I heard her first in 1969 when a friend/college djay gave me her promotional record. To have heard "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession" before most people was special and to see her live was heaven!  She changed me and is one of my greatest musical influences. Our upcoming CD has a song I've written to her and want to share.

So, here's to you Laura from one of the keepers of the flame! 

Love,

Christine

 

 

 

Happy New Year to all of our friends!  We've been working on the new CD, "Spero Plays Nyro" and there have been some setbacks but it will hopefully be out in October.  We're so excited for all of you to hear Laura's beautiful music again with some embellishments and twists.  We've retained the integrity of her music while giving it our own kind of power. 

Here are two moving reviews from wonderful Laura fans I met at our last show  at the Sellersville Theater in Pennsylvania.  Thank you Harold and Phillip!!

  "I got to see The Christine Spero Group and their tribute show "Spero Plays Nyro" this past Sunday at the Sellersville Theatre. Sadly I never saw Laura Nyro perform, so this was an exceptional evening for me. Christine obviously loves Laura!  It shines through her performance, and she has the chops as a singer and pianist to do Laura and her music proud! And her 3-piece group of musicians were exceptional! I had the pleasure to meet and speak with Christine after the show and she is friendly and accessible and SO happy to be singing Laura's songs. And in Laura's style! "Reimagining Laura?" Puh-lease! Thanks Christine for being a fan of Laura and HER way! Why reimagine perfection?"

"I was at your “Spero sings Nyro” show at the Sellersville Theatre. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it.  I was deeply moved. I have been deeply influenced in my own music-making by Laura and was so glad that you did such a superb job in bringing her music to life again. You stayed close enough to the original to give folks a good sense of her work, while also adding your own unique and often more sophisticated touch. I feel very strongly that Laura’s music needs a wider, hearing and you did a great job in conveying that. You are also superb musicians in your own right. I have enjoyed the two CD’s I bought at the concert: We Call it Music and My Spanish Dream. I can’t wait for the Spero Sings Nyro CD!"  Phillip Bennett / A Fan

 

What a great time we've had performing this fall.  At the Chenango Colorscape Arts Festival both our show of original music and "Spero Plays Nyro" were welcomed by a such a warm and appreciative audience.  

Oktoberfest at Hunter mountain was a blast. The crowd was so pumped up and loved our duo's renditions of all of the great pop classics. The weather was perfect and I didn't have to wear gloves! Then to top it off our show at The new Towne Crier in Beacon, NY with Steve Katz from Blood, Sweat and Tears was an incredible success. Thank you Ken, Danny and Phil for having us at your events and we look forward to doing it again. 

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 Christine Solo                 

Wheatfields Clifton Park NY      December 15th  6:00 - 9:00 PM

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"Spero Plays Nyro"

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Shows

  • 12/15/2017
    Wheatfield's Bistro Wine Bar - Clifton Park, NY
     
  • 12/29/2017
    Windham Fine Arts Gallery - Windham, NY
     
  • 12/29/2017
    The Club @ Windham Mountain Resort - Windham, N.Y.
     
  • 12/30/2017
    The New York Restaurant - Catskill, NY
     
  • 01/11/2018
    Bellini's - Latham, NY
     

"Spero Plays Nyro"

New CD Now Available ! 

"Spero Plays Nyro" A celebration of the music of Laura Nyro. This new project has been bringing a lot of joy to Laura's and our fans. 

Jazziz Promo