Spero to end on high note

Greg Spero, pianist and lead member of the Greg Spero Trio, writes out song ideas for the band before rehearsal on Saturday. ME Online

Greg Spero, pianist and lead member of the Greg Spero Trio, writes out song ideas for the band before rehearsal on Saturday. ME Online

By Missy Smith

Many second-semester seniors are at a loss of what to do with themselves. Some are trying to make their last few weeks of college last by celebrating. Others are trying to organize their futures once they step off the University campus. No matter what seniors are doing, it is clear that the real world is looming and getting closer with each coming day.

For Greg Spero, senior in FAA, the real world includes a world tour with a best-selling jazz band, the Frank Catalano Quintet.

“We are touring Japan in April, France in May, and Italy in June,” Spero said. “I just want to play all over, meet new people, and explore the world.”

For a 22-year-old, he is doing a good job taking on the world. He has played on a best-selling jazz album, which debuted at No. 11, spent 22 weeks on the Jazz Billboard Music charts, and has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Spero also headlines his own band, The Greg Spero Trio.

Jon Levy, freshman in LAS and friend of Spero, jokes about him and his accomplishments.

“He is a Jewish Casanova,” Levy laughs. “No, really, he is a nice guy, and he deserves everything he gets. He works hard for it.”

Aside from the bands he plays in, Spero also does Web design, photography and composes film scores for plays in Chicago to make a living. He said he does all of this in order to attain his dreams.

“The dream is basically to play and explore music and to channel my passions into art that I want to create,” Spero said. “Also, I try not to starve while doing it. Right now, I am happy with what I’m doing.”

That is the dream of every person, to find a way to use their passions in all their future plans, and for Spero, he finds ways to unite his passions.

“I find that things are interconnected,” he said. “My three main passions are the visual, musical, and technological arts. You combine the three by adding the visual arts to audio, and vice versa. The thing that connects them both is technology. One of the main purposes of art is exploration, and I want to be exploratory in all my endeavors.”

Part of Spero’s exploring includes his band, The Greg Spero Trio.

“We define ourselves as jazz fusion,” Spero said. “We incorporate modern popular styles, such as R&B; and heavy metal, with the intricacies of jazz. It results in rhythms that are danceable and that people can relate to.”

Their unique sound is a product of the bending of these different styles, which makes it hard to relate to any other sounds. Spero said he draws elements for his music from his favorite artists, like D’Angelo and the Liquid Tension Experiment.

This particular ensemble has been together for about a year, and they have recently added a fourth member, a vocalist, to the trio. The end product is a chemistry that is hard to beat and a compilation of sounds that is unrivaled and unique, Spero said.

“Our music is a contribution of everyone,” he said. “I would not want to push anyone in a direction they would not be comfortable going in, because the best music comes out when people are doing what they love to do.”

Spero’s love for music has been instilled in him since childhood, and even though he has been playing in bands since he was 14 years old, he never took lessons until he got to the University.

“Once I got here, I started getting yelled at about knowing how to play,” Spero said. “While there were a lot of times when I was really angry with my teachers, I think it really helped me in the long run.”

Currently Spero said he is planning an East Coast tour with the trio in July and is hoping to get them signed. Until then, he is taking opportunities as they come to him.

“So much with music has to do with luck,” he said. “There are little things that come together, as long as you push them. My dreams are all in the process of coming true and I am on a happy journey towards doing it.”

This journey takes him around campus, as the trio can be seen at various venues, such as the Canopy Club, Zorba’s, Cowboy Monkey and more.

“We have a following on campus and it’s getting stronger everyday,” Spero said.

He feels that everyone is out to just have a good time, whether it’s the band or the audience.

“The main thing I’m about is having a good time,” Spero said. “I am always out to have an awesome party, and that’s what people dig. I try to provide the awesome time that people are looking for, while at the same time expressing myself as an artist. I guess if there was one thing I would want students to know is that we are just here to party.”

For more information on the Greg Spero Trio or the Frank Catalano Quintet, please visit their Web sites, www.gregspero.com or www.catalanomusic.com, respectively.