By Howard Reich
October 4, 2011
No one was more surprised than Esperanza Spalding that she won the Best New Artist Grammy® earlier this year.
Except perhaps Justin Bieber, a pop phenomenon who found himself aced by a 26-year-old jazz bassist-vocalist whose art is a tad more sophisticated than the commercial music of our day.
This kind of thing doesn’t just happen at the Grammys, the development catching Spalding somewhat off guard.
“That’s an understatement,” says Spalding, who on Friday night at Symphony Center will play her first Chicago concert since the Grammy® dramatically lifted her global profile. “Everybody in my little camp over here was (surprised). Shoot. Honestly … you don’t know how something is going to be received.
“When you’re playing improvised music that is more through-composed and more related to the intimacy and interplay of the musicians, it’s subtler” than Top 40, continues Spalding.
“I think it’s always a surprise when a piece of work like that – that’s not based on hype of these best-known names or the long career of someone famous” gets honored, adds Spalding. “It’s a surprise – a nice one.”
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