Contemporary Jazz

Classically Cool


Gifted with uncanny instrumental chops, a multi-lingual voice and her own distinct sound, 25-year-old bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding has taken the jazz world by storm these past few years, but now draws on her early experiences playing classical violin to create her fascinating new work Chamber Music Society.

As a jazz musician, she's captivated audiences around the world by blending innovative vocal stylings with the deeply rhythmic lines of her upright bass. Backed on this release by drummer Teri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese, Spalding fashions a contemporary chamber music group that artfully blends improvisation with sparse, lush and compelling string arrangements.

Building upon the classical foundation, the multi-talented artist artfully shares her jazz, folk and world music influences. Typical of her more eloquent touch is "Little Fly" (a poem by William Blake set to a string trio driven melody). She goes back even further for "Knowledge Of Good And Evil," a dreamy, jazzy and harmonically rich vocal/string riff on the Adam and Eve story.  Speaking of sparkling harmonies, the vocal duet by Spalding and Brazilian legend Milton Nascimento on "Apple Blossom" creates a pure and ecstatic hypnosis.

For those who've been on vacation from the cool side of planet jazz these past few years: In 2005, Spalding graduated from Berklee College of Music and signed on as the youngest faculty member in the school's history. Since receiving the prestigious Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship, she has worked with iconic jazz figures like Stanley Clarke, Pat Metheny, Michel Camilo and Dave Samuels.