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 Esperanza Spalding shows Buffalo crowd why she deserves a Grammy

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marysharon
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Féminin Messages : 2782
Date d'inscription : 18/04/2009
Age : 37
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MessageSujet: Esperanza Spalding shows Buffalo crowd why she deserves a Grammy   Mer 15 Déc - 21:03

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The coming Grammy Awards have a genuine chance to earn back some of the integrity that has been whittled away from the institution over the past 15 years or so.

If the Recording Academy sees fit to grant Esperanza Spalding the trophy in the slot it has nominated her for — Best New Artist — then, for the first time in a good while, musical justice will have been served by the Grammys. Spalding is a brilliant bassist, writer, singer, bandleader and arranger.

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Concert Review

Esperanza Spalding

Saturday evening in Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center at Buffalo State College.

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On Saturday, a warmly receptive (if decidedly mellow) crowd took in twin sets of Spalding and band’s genre-stretching music at Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall. All in attendance would likely agree that it would be a nice gesture toward the notion of “substance over style” if Spalding took home the Grammy over, say, fellow “Best New Artist” nominee Justin Bieber.

Though she is clearly playing jazz — the level of interplay and improvisation, and the density and imagination of both harmony and rhythm, make this plain — Spalding is up to something different. She is truly a fusion artist, if one drops the pejorative sense of that term and accepts its meaning as suggesting musical culture cross-pollination.

That seemed to be what Saturday was all about, as Spalding led her trio — drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese, joined by a string trio (violin, viola, cello) and backing vocalist Leala Cyr — through sets that concentrated on music from her “Chamber Music Society” album. If the core of the music always revolved around Brazilian rhythmic inflections, Spalding fearlessly brought in classical music influences and arrangements, married them to consistently inventive scat vocal improvisations and locked-in harmonies, and came out with a music that almost seemed to dare the listener to define it.

But why bother? As Spalding emerged from behind the drawn curtain as if opening a play, sat down on a plush chair beneath a lamp near the front of the stage, poured a glass of wine and visibly exhaled — all without acknowledging the audience — preconceptions as to her idiomatic loyalties evaporated, or should have. She bravely opened with her musical adaptation of William Blake’s poem “Little Fly,” a piece that found her matching vocal and bass phrasing perfectly, as if she conceived of both as a single instrument. This was pretty mind-blowing stuff, so well-played, erudite and yet subtly funky — evocative of Stevie Wonder’s R&B/classical/ jazz hybrids of the early ’70s, in some ways. Carrington provided incredibly able support for all of this, playing her drum kit in a manner that suggested Latin percussion and implied jazz swing equally.

“Winter Sun” found Spalding leading the ensemble through esoteric terrain, her airy, perfectly pitched vocalisms suggesting the late ’80s and ’90s work of the Pat Metheny Group. And yet, nothing ever got too wispy or came untethered in self-indulgence. As the youngest person ever to be made an instructor at the Berklee College of Music — she was 20 at the time, and is 26 now — Spalding’s master status is not up for debate. But just as thrilling is her ability to juxtapose “body music” (funk, r&b, Brazilian grooves) with “head music” (the classical, jazz and hybrid of both that weaved its way through everything on Saturday).

Spalding has some Nina Simone in her, for sure, and she also has a touch of the late Jeff Buckley. Both were apparent when she put down her bass to sing the dramatic, epic ballad “Apple Blossom,” which was on par with both Buckley and Simone’s “Lilac Wine.” It was all presented without so much as a word to the audience, as if we’d all been invited into Spalding’s living room for a private recital of cross-pollinated 21st century chamber music. Already, Spalding has done enough for both jazz and pop to be considered the Joni Mitchell of her generation.

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