"Esperanza," bassist/vocalist/composer Esperanza Spalding's debut on Heads Up International, is set for worldwide release on May 20, 2008. Armed with uncanny instrumental chops, a siren voice that spans three languages, a... more »nd composing and arranging skills that weave together the best elements of the old-school with the progressive, this 23-year-old has crafted a debut album that takes a completely fresh and refreshing approach to jazz by borrowing from the rich traditions of soul, pop, world music and so much more. Esperanza is joined in the studio by a crew of A-list session players, including flamenco guitar virtuoso Niño Josele, percussionist Jamey Haddad, drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, saxophonist Donald Harrison and several other seasoned talents - all of whom collectively serve as further evidence of the kind of creative energy and magnetism that she radiates.« less
"Esperanza," bassist/vocalist/composer Esperanza Spalding's debut on Heads Up International, is set for worldwide release on May 20, 2008. Armed with uncanny instrumental chops, a siren voice that spans three languages, and composing and arranging skills that weave together the best elements of the old-school with the progressive, this 23-year-old has crafted a debut album that takes a completely fresh and refreshing approach to jazz by borrowing from the rich traditions of soul, pop, world music and so much more. Esperanza is joined in the studio by a crew of A-list session players, including flamenco guitar virtuoso Niño Josele, percussionist Jamey Haddad, drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, saxophonist Donald Harrison and several other seasoned talents - all of whom collectively serve as further evidence of the kind of creative energy and magnetism that she radiates.
Brian Whistler | Forestville, CA United States | 08/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"She's young, gorgeous and immensely talented. Esperanza Spalding's second offering is a musical potpourri that is sure to please most jazz afficionados. A superb bass player, an already highly nuanced vocalist and a promising composer, Esperanza is a triple threat who may very well be one of the key figures in defining the direction jazz will be heading in the 21st century.
There's a ton of variety here, everything from the stunning opening arrangement of Milton Nascimento's folk tinged Ponta De Areia to the sassy smart brazilian funk of She Got to You, the unsentimental poppy sweetness of Precious, not to mention the balls out straight ahead hipness of If that's True, and the tour de force jazz samba, I Adore You. Her scat with bass solo on this tune simply has to heard to be believed. Did I mention that she's not half bad as a lyricist? Is there nothing that this young woman can't do? Apparently not. And the fact that she sings and plays simultaneously and this effortlessly puts her in a class by herself.
Check her out on youtube, especially her performance of Body and Soul at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, not to mention her exuberant performance on Letterman, which prompted the usually cool David to comment, " You were right Paul: She IS the coolest guest we've ever had on this show". And he may very well have been right."
Let The Music Do The Talking
Mr. Richard D. Coreno | Berea, Ohio USA | 05/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the age of 15, Esperanza Spalding was playing professionally around Portland, Oregon, and started to build her performance resume as a bassist and vocalist, which included recording and performing for a well-regarded regional fusion outfit, Noise for Pretend.
And what a journey it has been over the past eight years - dropping out of high school, earning a GED and attending a local university, before taking a huge step by traveling cross-country to attend the Berklee College of Music, where she is an alumna and faculty member - to the release of the dozen selections on her debut CD for the Heads Up International label.
While these are group pieces, Spalding, 23, spices up the arrangements with her solid vocal range and steady playing on the upright bass. Her vocals are particularly impressive on Cuerpo y Alma, Love in Time and Samba Em Preludio.
The bouncy I Know You Know and I Adore You highlight the collaborative effort of the musicians, while Mela and If That's True include Spalding's best work on bass.
Spalding has a tremendous future as a group leader on stage and in the studio; she also produced the CD. A follow-up to a 2006 release on a European indie label, Esperanza Spalding is on the fast track to begin making tremendous strides in the jazz world."
Derek Johnson | United Kingdom | 08/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Spread the word, there's a new lady in town: Esperanza Spalding, and she's bringing her 'A' game to the area of music called Jazz. And what a refreshing brew it is. Using her skills as a bassist, accompanied by her brilliant voice, which can be heard in three languagues (English, Portuguse & Spanish), this her sophomore presentation, is a mature offering for one so young (she's 23) What I love about this CD is the variety on offer. You have straight on jazz, a samba selection, and a soulful selection, all wrapped into one CD. The bonus that Ms Spalding has is that along with her skills as a bassist, she has a great voice, that I would imagine, along with her looks, would make her a marketing dream. But she still has to deliver the goods, and she does: form the soulful' I Know that you know', the quiet stormish ' Fall In', the sambaish' I Adore You', and the haunting 'Samba Em Preludio, which I couldn't get out of my head the to name just a few of the highlights of this CD. This is a solid set that should make this young lady a star, if there's any justice in the music world. My CD of the year thus far "
This Chick's Got Chops!
Rick Cornell | Reno, Nv USA | 08/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So, I bought this highly acclaimed eponymous debut (or, at least, first widely released) c.d., knowing nothing about Esperanza Spalding other than she's this year's favorite jazz flavor. The first cut was the great old Milton Nascimento tune, "Ponte de Areia." I noted: "above average Brazilian jazz-pop; stronger voice than Bebel Gilberto; probably 4 stars."
But this is why you have to listen to an entire c.d., before jumping to conclusions.
As Esperanza expands into jazz-pop ("I Adore You," track 4, and track 7, "Precious"), funk ("Espera", track 10), and freer post-bop ("Mela," track 8, and my favorite on this disc, track 11, "If That's True"), it becomes quite evident that this disc is anything but "above average Brazilian jazz-pop."
But then, Ms. Spalding ends the disc with an absolutely gorgeous "duet," a samba entitled "Samba Preludio," with her on voice and bass, and Pablo Martin on guitar (recorded especially in Spain), and it's as if she has just given us a great big wink.
Esperanza Spalding in fact is not Brazilian. Rather, she was born and raised in Portland, Ore., trained at Berklee, and is the youngest instructor in the history of Berklee. And she's 23 years old.
Quite obviously, this is an eclectic c.d., designed to show off Esperanza's chops. And damn, this chick's got chops! Her vocal range is impressive; but she's one of the finest young bassists in the business. I suspect she'll hit Down Beat's "talent deserving wider recognition" category as a bassist before she does as a vocalist; but she easily could be in both categories very soon.
2008 has been an amazing year for debut c.d.'s. Raya Yarbrough, Hope Waits, Melody Gardot, and Esperanza Spalding have knocked out the most impressive quartet of "debut" recordings I can remember in any one year. While this one is not my favorite of the four, I really think Esperanza Spalding has the most inherent talent of all. I don't see a ceiling on this artist, and hopefully, she'll keep expanding the sky as the years go on. RC"