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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Esperanza at The Orpheum Theater

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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Meet Esperanza on Philadelphia

Musicians On Call brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. If you would like to support this organization and also win the opportunity to meet Esperanza at her Philadelphia concert next October 14th, click on this link

When you support Musicians On Call, you’re giving more than just a donation; you’re giving the gift of music.

Little Black Pearl Fundraiser

Esperanza Spalding performed during the 2011 Pearl Fest, a celebration and fundraiser for the Little Black Pearl Art and Design a center for youth and adults, in Mandrake Park on August 21, 2011  in Chicago, Illinois. The benefit organized by Terri Lyne Carrington brought along other musical friends, including singer Lizz Wright and the legendary Nona Hendryx of LaBelle fame.

Altas Horas at O Globo

On air, last Saturday 24, Esperanza participated in the late show Altas Horas hosted by Serginho Groisman presenting her latest album Chamber Music Society.

Click here to watch part of the show.

The great cast behind Uniqlo’s Fall Campaign

Esperanza Spalding is starring alongside of a diverse cast including Laura Linney, ‘Glee’ star Darren Criss, Tumblr founder David Karp, P.S. 22 chorus teacher Gregg Breinberg and Oscar® Winner Susan Sarandon, in a campaign that is meant to emphasize Uniqlo’s “Made for All” philosophy.

Uniqlo CEO Shin Odake said in an interview. “Through the ‘Voices of New York’ cast we would like to show that individuality is not found in clothing but in people.”

TheVoices of New York’ campaign debuted the past week and will appear in print ads, on billboards, on taxi tops, and in the NYC subway system.

Check out here Esperanza’s campaign profile.

Bravo Magazine

Esperanza was interviewed by Mila Burns for the Brazilian Magazine Bravo after her concert at the Town Hall in NY where she tells how she became a fan of Brazilian music from Dorival Caymmi, Tom Jobim to Hermeto Pascoal. In this interview, Esperanza goes over her recent accomplishments and early times, there is also a special attention to her dear friend Milton Nascimento, who she is playing with at Rock in Rio, Saturday 24 at Palco Sunset.

Check Out Esperanza’s interview in the Big Lounge

In August Esperanza was interviewed by Dick Hannah Dealerships in the Big Lounge show from Portland’s radio station Esperanza talked about her carreer and performed live for the audience.

Click here to watch the interview and performances.

Chamber Music Society Hit’s 100,000

Less than a year after its release, Grammy® Award winner Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society album has sold over 100,000 units – a rare feat for jazz albums today. Chamber Music Society is currently the highest selling album on the Contemporary Jazz Chart.

Thank you very much for your support!

6 New Style Stars You’re Gonna Obsess

Who she is: She’s the Austin-based singer, bassist, and composer who was the surprise Best New Artist winner at the Grammy’s this year, beating Beiber, Drake, Florence + The Machine, and Mumford and Sons.

Why she’s got potential: She’s setting an example on how to embrace retro trends, while being the face of modern style.

Signature look: This beauty switches up her style from glam, red-carpet starlet looks to menswear (yes, more menswear!) swag with a cool, throwback vibe, much like her album, Chamber Music Society. She also rocks an afro that could make even Diana Ross jealous.

Check put the rest of the list!