Jazz Review: Esperanza Spalding at the Orpheum Theater
By Chris Barton
Even though it’s been the better part of a year since Esperanza Spalding shocked a nation of Justin Bieber fans on Grammy® night, there was still an impressive level of anticipation in the air going into her show at the Orpheum Theater Friday night, her first L.A. show since winning best new artist.
Because thanks to that win, which still resonates as one of the most satisfyingly daring moments to come out of the Recording Academy in recent memory, there aren’t many bigger names in today’s mainstream jazz, particularly among artists still in their 20s. Though she’s been recording the follow-up to her Grammy®-winning Chamber Music Society, Spalding has remained on the music scene with appearances that included two shows at the Newport Jazz Festival in August, a date with the Roots in Philadelphia and two nights opening for Prince during his late-spring residency at the Forum.
And while curiosity is running high as to where Spalding will go next with the upcoming Radio Music Society (produced by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, an intriguing pairing that surely raised eyebrows among jazz traditionalists), Spalding offered no previews of what lay ahead in Friday’s performance. Kicking off a cross-country tour with her Chamber Music Society ensemble, which included a three-piece string section, Spalding primarily drew from the album that delivered her Grammy® breakthrough mixed with dashes of theatricality.
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