Can Esperanza Spalding lure new audiences to jazz?

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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2 comments to Can Esperanza Spalding lure new audiences to jazz?

  • Lora Tazewell

    Esperanza Spalding is having a profound impact on young people. The scope and depth of her music will lure young artists and music enthusiasts to begin “planting the seeds” to a more meaningful understanding of Jazz.

    My hope has been restored in the direction that music is taking in the 21st century as a result of Esperanza’s profound impact in the music industry. I strongly believe that Esperanza will be a beacon of light to help guide the musical path for young artists on an international scope!

    Thank you Esperanza, you are truly a gift that can only come from the heavens above!

    Best Wishes,
    Lora A. Tazewell

  • Keeley

    The Grammy was well deserved Ms. Spalding! You bring a ray of hope to older jazz lovers that the artform will be preserved and expanded. Thank you so much for sharing your gift with us.

    Grace & peace 2 U.

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