On the opening track of her much-lauded, self-titled major label debut, Esperanza (Heads Up, 2008 ), bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding covered Milton Nascimento's timeless gem, "Ponta de Areia." Rather than covering another of the singer/composer's tunes on Chamber Music Society, Spalding recruits Nascimento to perform on her own "Apple Blossoms." It's but one example of a highly intriguing set that blends her classical training with jazz, pop and soul tendencies.
This might seem to be a risky endeavor, but not for Spalding, who not only keeps an open mind, but a radar-like ear that is able to absorb many sonic influences and still make them her own.
Evidence of this is "Winter Sun," another original composition that has elements of soul and jazz without too many complications. Here, she is supported solely by her trio and some multilayered backing vocals, before taking an unexpected bass solo that comes just as the tune might have headed in a pop direction. Her cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim/Aloysio de Oliveira's "Inutil Paisagem" (known in English as "If You Never Come To Me") goes far away from the beaches of Rio; instead, there is a classically-inspired duet between Spalding and vocalist Gretchen Parlato, who perform in both English and Portuguese, backed solely by the bandleader's bass.
The inclusion of strings is a plus here, enhancing the musicality of tracks including "Knowledge of Good and Evil," an up-tempo original with wordless vocals that showcases Spalding's vocal dexterity; the opening "Little Fly"; and "Apple Blossoms," where they flow around Nascimento's improvisations without interference. Also worth a few more spins are "Wild Is The Wind" and the closing "Short and Sweet," both demonstrating that Spalding will certainly be the inspiration for many music students, scholars and fans for years to come.
Little Fly; Knowledge Of Good And Evil; Really Very Small; Chacarera; Wild Is The Wind; Apple Blossom; As A Sprout;What A Friend; Winter Sun; Inútil Paisagem; Short And Sweet.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.