Chamber Music Society
In the two years since the release of her self-titled debut album, Esperanza Spalding has been known primarily as a jazz artist. While she is honored to be a part of that rich tradition, there are countless other shades and layers to her creative voice that she would like the world to hear and know about. This is the motivation and inspiration behind her newest recording, Chamber Music Society, an album that combines jazz trio with string arrangement and voice.
Esperanza has been playing music in one form or another since her early childhood. Much of her early experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music for which she maintains a deep respect and appreciation to this day. Throughout the years – even as she transitioned into the jazz scene – she has drawn inspiration from classical music, and chamber music in particular. She continues to be fascinated by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting.
Indeed, that was the very essence of chamber music from its very beginnings in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance – centuries before the advent of radio or recording technology. Chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. Chamber Music Society is Esperanza’s way of recreating that same kind of cultural nexus – a place where connoisseurs of classical music, jazz devotees and fans of almost any other kind of music can find common ground.
For all of her creative and technical accomplishments to date, Esperanza freely admits that Chamber Music Society was a stretch – as a composer, an arranger and a performer – but it was also a valuable learning experience, and a lot of fun. Along the way, she had the good fortune of working with some incredibly talented individuals. Her co-producer on the project was Grammy-winning composer and arranger Gil Goldstein, who has worked with some of the most prominent jazz artists of the past four decades.
The core of musicians alongside Esperanza’s bass and voice include pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lynne Carrington and percussionist Quintino Cinalli. The string trio is comprised of violinist Entcho Todorov, violinist Lois Martin, cellist David Eggar and vocalist Gretchen Parlato.
The great Milton Nascimento also makes a guest appearance on one track. Nascimento has been one of Esperanza’s musical heroes for many years. He has continually inspired her to follow her own voice, whether she’s composing, playing or singing. Simply put, he represents everything Esperanza would like to achieve musically. “His contribution to this record is a blessing,” she says, “and a validation of everything I’ve accomplished so far in my career.”
No matter what era we live in, no matter what our background, we all want to hear sincerity and originality and truth in music. Those things are very much a part of Chamber Music Society. Those are the things that Esperanza strives to deliver.