Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Jazz: Esperanza Spalding

Words By Zach Zeidner


Esperanza Spalding, arguably one of the most exceptional contemporaries to have recently bombarded the Jazz scene, is a perfect mix of beauty, brains, and sheer unadulterated talent. As a virtuosic upright bass player with an equally talented voice and innovative mind, Spalding embodies the perfect modern jazz musician. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Spalding can be best described as if Ornette Coleman and Madonna had a child and she was raised by Billie Holiday and Stevie Wonder. This woman screams talent, exploring new and interesting avenues of Jazz, R’n’B, and popular music. Astoundingly, the public has even acknowledged it. Spalding was recently nominated for an Emmy for best new artist, which is extremely rare for a Jazz musician and exemplifies Spalding’s ability to enrapture and infiltrate the collective mind of the public. Spalding became the most searched person and item on Google as a result of her televised performance at the Austin City Limits Festival this past year, an utterly remarkable accomplishment for a Jazz musician.

Esperanza Spalding’s album Esperanza, is a remarkable album that explores the avenues of jazz music few contemporaries choose to explore these days. Spalding uses various Latin based grooves with standard walking bass lines to develop some jams that will leave you bewildered. Spalding’s vocals are astounding; creating inflections in her voice that are reminiscent to Billie Holiday. With an ability to scat like Sarah Vaughn and demonstrate the vocal range of Ella Fitzgerald; Spalding, in my opinion, embodies the perfect female jazz voice. She demonstrates this ability on numerous tunes throughout the album. Her Portuguese rendition of “Body and Soul” is a remarkable demonstration of her vocal abilities as well as her perpetual drive to perfect the uncharted territories of contemporary jazz. This album is a beautiful piece of work that can accompany a quiet afternoon on the couch, dinner with a loved one, or even a bedtime album. Esperanza Spalding is a recent addition to the Jazz scene but her influence is growing with her popularity and I look forward to numerous more albums that will unquestionably blow us all away. Bravo Esperanza, Bravo.

Purchase Esperanza's Album Here


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