381

Esperanza Spalding: Esperanza

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
From a guest appearance on Stanley Clarke's The Toys of Men (Heads Up, 2007) to her self-titled debut, Esperanza Spalding is turning heads, and opening lots of ears. After an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, the host called the 23-year-old vocalist/bassist/composer "the coolest guest" he'd ever had.

Spalding is indeed cool, having enrolled at Berklee College of Music at 16, and ultimately becoming the institution's youngest professor in its history. She landed gigs with Patti Austin, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny and others. Spalding's resume also includes work with Michel Camillo, Dave Samuels and, of course, Clarke.

Her flute-like voice sets the mood early on "Ponta De Areia," the Brant Fernando Rocha/Milton Nascimento composition was made famous by Wayne Shorter and covered by Earth, Wind & Fire. Sung in Brazilian Portuguese, the selection is as beautiful as ever. Leo Genovese contributes a charming piano solo, backed by Spalding's bass, with Jamey Haddad on percussion and Otis Brown on drums.

The title of "I Adore You," isn't a slow-moving ballad, but rather a highly percussive song. With additional vocalists, Horacio Hernandez on drums and Haddad on percussion, Spalding leads a chorus of scat. The bass helps underscore the piano solo. Hernandez punctuates with cymbals, snare and toms at precisely the right moments. Spalding leads on scat/bass duet, showing both her vocal range and crispness with consonants, which sometimes get lost when the vocalist is too fast.

"She Got to You" showcases not only Spalding's vocal and instrumental talents, but also her aptitude as a songwriter. With Donald Harrison complementing on alto saxophone, Spalding sings of a lover who's been swept away by another. The song shifts gears several times as Spalding goes from rapid-fire lyrics to something more subtle. She scats in a way reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald, and easily shifts back and forth between scat and lyrics.

Spalding wrote nine of the twelve songs on Esperanza. The others are fresh interpretations of some classics, including a Spanish-lyrics version of the American jazz standard "Body and Soul," here titled "Cuerpo y Alma." Accompanied by a flexible lineup of session players, Spalding displays sass, warmth, soul and charm.

Track Listing: Ponta de Areia; I Know You Know; Fall In; I Adore You; Cuerpo y Alma(Body & Soul); She Got to You; Precious; Mela; Love in Time; Espera; Samba em Preludio.

Personnel: Esperanza Spalding: bass, vocals; Gretchen Parlato: vocals; Jamey Haddad: percussion; Otis Brown: drums; Nino Josele: acoustic guitar; Donald Harrison: tenor saxophone; Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez: drums; Leo Genovese: piano; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet.

Title: Esperanza | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Heads Up International


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Happy Orchestra: Baba" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Orchestra: Baba
by Paul Rauch
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)" CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "My Love" CD/LP/Track Review My Love
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 28, 2017
Read "Going North" CD/LP/Track Review Going North
by Chris Mosey
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Clockwise / The Music of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise / The Music of Cedar Walton
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.