Pianist and composer Lesley Spencer takes her orchestra to the famous cities of Spain for a sun-drenched travelogue of music, passion and adventure. This is her tenth album to date and features her renowned and very versatile orchestra with special guest fusion guitarist Fareed Haque…
“Dance With Me Carmen” is one of my favorites on the album. Haque’s flamenco guitar and Spencer’s piano twirl about in a spanish dance that will get your heart pounding. In mid-tune the orchestra chimes in and it becomes a salsa number with echoing trumpets and hot percussion…
Lesley Spencer’s new musical travelogue was delightful in every respect. This is the kind of friendly, cheerful music that you put in the player and get on a boat or plane and travel to distant places in search of discovery. Even if the journey is in your own mind, don’t forget to send us some “POSTCARDS FROM SPAIN.”
R J LANNON/NEWAGEREPORTER.COM – MAY 2005
“The music by Lesley Spencer is a fresh combination of elements typical of New Instrumental Music and others of Latin character sometimes near to Classical, whose result is a pleasant collection of pieces with a romantic, melodic air. Almost all the themes are rhythmic, even though not quite fast, and give the leading role to the melodies. These latter are warm, sometimes cheerful and in other instances somewhat melancholy. The instrument with a greatest protagonism is the piano, although it is accompanied by other instruments.
Virginia Tamayo/amazings.com – September 2005.
Leslie Spencer, a half-Spanish composer, musician, and producer, rediscovers her own Latin heritage on this uplifting album of breezy and creatively orchestrated instrumentals featuring piano, Latin guitar, woodwinds, strings, percussion, and bass. Some listeners who prefer more teeth to their music may find Postcards from Spain too much in the New Age/Wyndham Hill-instrumental style for their taste. However, the album is smooth, relaxing, and melodic, ideal for an atmospheric backdrop to dinner or other activities (for example, one of her past Cds has been recommended as background music to spa treatments.) A particular highlight of this album is the internationally celebrated guitarist Fareed Haque, who is featured here along with members of the Latin Chamber Pop Ensemble.
When you think of Spanish music, the piano is probably not the first instrument that comes to mind, but that is what Lesley Spencer plays (beautifully, I might add) and probably composed these lovely pieces on. This album got a listen from Jack Stone, who was convinced it was synth, until we found the note on the inside of the cover that says “100% real instruments… no synthesizers used.” As impressed as he was with the sound, alas, he hadn’t time to get his opinion into print and thus it falls to me to sound the knell: this is some grade a quality music, mostly in a meditative mood. Featured guitarist Fareed Haque is associate professor of jazz and classical guitar at Northern Illinois University… pity the poor students who get to hear him play and then have to struggle endless hours to attempt to match it. With his haunting echo of Wes Montgomery, the album was recorded at Chicago and Morton Grove, Illinois and mixed in Oak Park, Illinois, produced by Lesley Spencer and Katherine Gray Pollock.
NIGHTFALLING – MAY/JUNE 2005
“Spencer keeps becoming more and more of a best kept secret that really needs to be let out. Reaching back into her own Spanish heritage for this breezy set that does more than capture a nice impressionistic picture of Spain for the arm chair traveler, Spencer and her hand picked crew will have you convinced you are there if you close your eyes and let the music take over. Hot stuff throughout!!”
Chris Spector – Mid-West Record Recap – April 2005.
“You may remember our past review of Lesley Spencer’s “Joy Garden” album. It’s a celebration of sounds that won’t alarm or stress you out, indeed it coaxes you out of a stressful environment into one of a relaxing sunny day spend on a porch or outside of a café. If there was a soundtrack to people watching in a big Europeans city, than this is it. Piano-based transcendental music that will remind you of Spain with its slight nod toward flamenco and other Latin-based pop.”
SMOTHER.NET – APRIL, 2005
Freelance composer Spencer has put together a very pleasant listening experience… great blends of Latino-styled orchestral arrangements that will make you glad to be alive. Lesley’s piano is featured, though Fareed’s guitar magic is closer to the front of the mix than the keyboards (as you might imagine for this style of music). The playing is all “straight-ahead”, no synths or samples… & that does make a difference, believe me! This is our first listen (that I know of) to production from this label (Gabriella Music), & it’s clear that they are out to ensure that the music they produce can’t be “rubber stamped” as “just another….”. If you’re looking for wild-eyed improv, you’ll go elsewhere, but if you want a musical experience that can be enjoyed over & over again, you’ll fall in love with “Postcards”. I’m impressed enough with the energy levels displayed here to give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
ROTCOD ZZAJ – IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION – MAY/JUNE 2005
Smooth jazz has long been the whipping boy of straight ahead jazz musicians, and in many cases, the criticism is totally warranted. Let’s face it: much of the formulaic, unimaginative, bloodless drive that has plagued NAC radio playlists in the ’80s, ’90,s and 2000s is amazingly bad. That said, smooth jazz is not inherently evil; there is nothing wrong with providing pop-flavored jazz or jazzy instrumental pop if it is done with integrity and if one considers David Sanborn, Michael Franks or the late Grover Washington, Jr. part of smooth jazz, it could easily be argued that some smooth jazz does, in fact, have integrity. One 2005 release that falls into the “smooth jazz with integrity” category is pianist Lesley Spencer’s Postcards from Spain. This 48 minute CD favors a soft and gently melodic blend of jazz, pop and Latin music usually Latin as in flamenco (Spencer is half Spanish herself), although traces of Afro Cuban salsa and South American music show up from time to time. Postcards form Spain is easy listening, but it isn’t elevator Muzak and Spencer’s material, for all its softness, has a brain (which is something that is missing from so many of the 2000s records that are considered smooth jazz). One of the guests on this album is Fareed Haque, a lyrical and appealing (if underrated) guitarist form Chicago (which is Spencer’s home). Haque, whose parents were from Pakistan and and Chile, clearly understands the connection between Middle Eastern, North African and Spanish music, he is well aware of the Moorish influence that you’re likely to hear if you’re walking along la Gran Via in Madrid or la Ramblas in Barcelona. Postcards from Spain doesn’t pretend to be 2005’s answer to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, but it’s a noteworthy and generally decent (if slightly uneven) demonstration of the fact that smooth jazz doesn’t have to be schlock.
ALEX HENDERSON – ALL MUSIC GUIDE – MAY 2006
Personally, when I think of Spanish music, I tend to think mostly of Castanets and Latin guitar sounds more so than of a piano, but Spencer plays the piano in these compositions with a breezy Latin flare that I did not know was possible to achieve. The compositions also feature the Latin guitar, percussion instruments and bass. Having never been to Spain, I closed my eyes and allowed the impressions of the musical works to transport me there via my senses. Warmth, gaiety, lieveliness, hustle and bustle, plus dancind were just some of the impressions I received while listening to this album. At times, the sounds became more melancholy in nature, creating a sense of thought-provoking awareness. For the most part though, this album is breezy, sparking a flare for life, a desire to rejoice and dance. If you’re looking for traditional Spanish music, then this album is more than likely not for you, but if you like music with a Spanish flare that has been done in more of a New Age style, then you’ll most definitely like this album.
LONE EAGLE EYE ARTIST – FACINGNORTH.COM – JANUARY 2007