Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

297

Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society at Knight Theater

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Esperanza Spalding
Knight Theater
Charlotte, North Carolina
September 24, 2010

Having had little exposure to Esperanza Spalding's music, some questions were answered by her visit to the Knight Theater on September 24th. Part of Charlotte's two-day Sunset Jazz Festival, it was the prodigy-turned jazz phenom's first appearance in the city. The concert dovetailed with Chamber Music Society (Heads Up International, 2010), the young singer/bassist's third release, and with more than three quarters of the 1150 seats filled, the venue was abuzz with anticipation.

At the far right hand corner of the stage with curtains drawn rested some curiously positioned furniture— an armchair, a lamp, and a table adorned with a wine bottle and glass. The sound of soft string music began to fill the air just before Spalding unobtrusively entered from the corner to the crowd's delight. Like a scene of a person arriving home from a hard day's work, she proceeded to pull off her coat and shoes, poured herself a glass of wine, took a couple of sips, and relaxed in comfort as the chamber music wafted quietly.

After taking a few moments to enjoy her music and drink, the curtains opened to reveal a live string ensemble consisting of a violinist, violist, and cellist. This was the cue as Spalding gracefully sat up, with glass in hand, and joined the group to play the massive double bass which was positioned at the trio's center. The appropriate union now formed, they continued the stirring composition and affectively set the tone for the remainder of evening. This was not going to be a typical jazz or classical concert.

Spalding immediately answered the question of her musicality. She performed with authority, poise, and vivaciousness, providing an exhilarating display of her many talents: a beautiful voice with a depth and range rivaling any singer of note; uninhibited prowess on the bass, whether bowing passionately or handling a soulful swing-walk, her abilities were natural and inspiring. The group-symbiosis was undeniable. The discipline and flexibility of the string ensemble was further augmented by a spirited jazz ensemble—drummer, pianist, and an additional singer. They presented Spalding's unique vision of composition, song, and riveting improvisation; travelling between the variations with ease.

The many highlights included an a cappella duet between Spalding and the additional singer with its Bobby McFerrin meets Antonio Carlos Jobim flair; or Spalding transforming her double bass into a percussion instrument as she traded rhythmic solos with the drummer; and her dancing an impromptu Latin cha-cha as the band went deep into the groove. Whether playing, singing, or dancing, her spirit was infectious.

The audience's appreciative applause at the end of the concert was rewarded with an encore. Spalding re-entered the stage alone and closed with an iconic curtain call. A poignant rendition of "Midnight Sun," a jazz standard that was originally composed by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke, then put to lyrics by songwriter Johnny Mercer. The classic melody was given the Spalding treatment; lyrics oozed with charisma and empathy, accompanied by her emphatic bass playing. It was a fitting conclusion to an excellent concert. She can seemingly do it all and proved it that night.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon Live Reviews David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Panama Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Moers Festival 2017" Live Reviews Moers Festival 2017
by Phillip Woolever
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Jazzkaar 2017" Live Reviews Jazzkaar 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: May 29, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!