Customer Reviews: Radio Music Society
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on March 20, 2012
I've been a fan of Esperanza Spalding since seeing her on a "Performance at the White House" special. That relaxed vibe, coupled with her beautiful voice and that HAIR, caught my attention immediately. Each of her albums reflect a maturing of an artist -- not that they're necessarily "better" than the previous, it's that they are different and include a different voice each time.

After hearing "Black Gold," I have been patiently waiting for the full Radio Music Society to drop...and boy was this worth the wait. The flow, the music.....her voice -- this is pure perfection. I highly recommend buying this, grab a glass of wine, head out on your deck/patio and let the genius that is Esperanza flow out of your speakers. May she continue to be rewarded for her creativity....and may we be rewarded by enjoying and embracing her creativity.
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on May 20, 2012
I am convinced she can't make a bad song. I have been following her music since the first recorded tune made its way to the internet. She has mastered the bass and her voice is clear and full. What more can you want?

In her last album "Chamber Music Society", smart jazzy-licks combine with the pomp and baroque of classical sweeping highs. It was a work of genius and she really crossed a line no one had successfully done before. She brought the most structured and rule-bound style of music that we know today and what is often considered the most loose, least-regimented and open style and made a whole album of delights.

So how does she follow? "Radio Music Society".
Modern R&B, jazz, pop, and soul all mixed into a perfect set of tracks. Did she do any insane bendings of genres here? maybe not. But the WAY she combined them was sooooooo just....sensual and sweet. The whole album honestly feels like listening to the radio with all the various tunes that seem so different but still slightly connected. The flow is beyond perfect.
I honestly have had this album playing back-to-back on a few roadtrips and every time it just feels good. Whenever I know I need to change things up, I go to this album and probably have it going in the car for two weeks (as a musician, any album lasting over 2-3 days has got to be phenomenal. I play bass, and I hate repitition when I am LISTENING to music, so it says a lot that this album stayed in the car so long every time!)

What am I telling you? buy this album. As she says in the album," this song's the one to get your spirit groovin!"
it'll get you, you're gonna get hooked
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on March 28, 2012
This is the first album I have by this artist.Some people say it is not really jazz but I like it. Might even try to find more jazz musicians because of this! I got the deluxe version and I'm glad I did because it includes the DVD with video clips. The packaging is really nice and the artwork inside has a vintage feel to it. The Deluxe version would make a great gift I think. The music is mellow and very relaxing to listen to. Esperanza has a beautiful melodious voice. I especially like Cinnamon Tree, Black Gold, I Can't Help It, City of Roses(an ode to Portland, Oregon) and Smile Like That. This is good to play when you are just chilling, when you need background music for study or on your commute. Superb music!
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on May 24, 2012
I first noticed Esperanza Spalding during the first broadcast of the now well-documented visit on the David Letterman show. As I flipped through channels I was surprised to detect the sincerity in his voice as he stated that Ms. Spalding was probably "the coolest guest we've had on this show." I stopped to learn of whom he was speaking and was just mesmerized from the first note to the last smile. I immediately puchased ESPERANZA and quickly followed up with JUNGA, as well as everything else she has released before or since.

This album is more akin to the lighter feel and style of her hit album ESPERANZA and less similar to her straight jazz and 'Chamber Music'/ jazz structured albums. This album is intended to reflect her more romantic (and romanticized) rhythm/ blues/ pop sensibilities rather than present her incredibly strong roots influenced music (original jazz, classical and chamber music genres.) This album helps to further her vast musical interests and influences without being a phony "covers" album or crossover recording. In addition, the self-produced music videos that she made for each song make the DELUXE EDITION an incredible offering that only heightens the wonderful musical experience.

This album, from beginning to end, is a languid respite on a breeze filled spring day. Whether on a stress-filled commute to and from work, or whether swaying in a hammock among the Spanish Moss filled southern oak trees with cardinals and mockingbirds chirping along... this album is the anecdote for all of the tensions and turmoils of modern day.

One only needs to read the other 5 star reviews to garner a sufficient understanding of the music contained within and thus the rest of this review will focus on the artist, as an understanding of Esperanza Spalding itself is an understanding of her music.

This lady is truly an artist.

Never a phony pop act who listens to musicians from favorite genres but plays songs or style(s) that are more likely to sell records (Allison Krause, Taylor Swift, Garth Brookes, Eddie Van Halen, Bayonce' Knowles, etc., etc., etc.). She plays music not as a pop princess whose main goal in life is fame and fortune, she plays music because her heart and soul are steeped into the sounds and words that emanates from the very depths of her pettite frame.

From the first moment she began playing on the Letterman show it was enjoyably obvious that she melds (almost spiritual connection) with her music and simply put, truly enjoying playing her songs. The second moment revealed that she plays from the soul with a natural style reminiscent of the old great jazz masters and is not one of the embarrassing parodies of so-called "smooth jazz" (modern jazz.)

All of her instrumentation is sensually gentle, almost never using synthesizers, overpowering bass lines or other tones that destroys modern jazz. Her lyrics are subtle and natural (never trying to be "clever" or fake) and always sung with a soulful, beautiful, heartfelt beauty that almost matches the sheer loveliness of the artist herself.

She has turned the heads of nearly all of the most notable current jazz elite as well as earned the ears of much of the worlds nobility. She earned plaudits galore as a savant during her youth, yet dismisses most of the compliments beyond the appreciation given for her music.

This artist is a true delight onstage - just as relaxed and sensual as she appeared on the Letterman show. She was just as casual and gentle during her meet and greet where in I felt compelled to share with her my opinion that she has "single handedly saved modern music."

This musical treasure - this wonderfully explosive dynamite in a beautiful, pettite figure - has already earned a place among my favorite musicians of all-time, Tommy Shaw, Heather Nova and Bill Withers.

Viva la Esperanza... the greatest hope for music in this world of lounge lizards and pop princesses.
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on May 20, 2012
I have all of Esperanza Spalding CD's and this is by far my favorite. All of the music is outstanding with a solid contemporary jazz feel that it not like the standard offerings. The CD is worth it just for "Black Gold" and "Cinnamon Tree". Ms Spaldings' voice is surprisingly light and airy while not seeming weak or bland and her lyrics are fresh almost like a poetry reading. The CD is well worth the price.
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on March 20, 2012
Five HUGE Stars! Another major milestone achievement for bassist, singer, composer, arranger, and leader Esperanza Spalding! She seems to be all over these days, singing at the White House and the Academy Awards, fronting her own groups at festivals, winning jazz polls, performing with legendary jazz personages like Joe Lovano and Terri Lyne Carrington, and becoming the first Jazz artist to win the "Best New Artist" Grammy against some stiff non-jazz competition in 2010. Following up her well-received Chamber Music Society, she expands her universe with this amazing "Deluxe" package of music CD, detailed liner notes with song lyrics, and a spellbinding one-hour video of "Radio Music Society-The Movie" that weaves the songs into visual stories. Esperanza plays both upright acoustic and ebass guitar, along with a star-studded cast that includes, among others, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jack DeJohnette, and Billy (Jabali) Hart on drums, Gretchen Parlato, Algebra Blesset, and Lalah Hathaway on vocals, and Joe Lovano on tenor sax. This is marvelous music that combines jazz, R&B, soul, and funk, sung magnificently by Ms Spalding backed by "American Music Society" groups of up to 12 musicians. All songs are uniformly excellent, but the 'best of the best' includes the pure funky beauty of "Black Gold", a superb cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Can't Help It" with tenor sax titan Joe Lovano in solo and support, the shocking ending of the beautiful "The Land of The Free", the torch song "Hold On Me" reinforces the fact that she is already one of the best jazz vocalists around, and a lovely hip treatment of Wayne Shorter's "Endangered Species" with her own lyrics is now the definite version of this song. Produced and mostly arranged by Esperanza herself, this is a magnificent musical and video achievement. Bravo, Esperanza Spalding! My Highest Recommendation! Five AMAZING Stars (14 tracks: Time 61mins: 35secs. Digital video: 1 hr: 06mins,:27secs. This review is based on an ITunes download with video and digital booklet.)
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on March 25, 2012
What a thrill to see Esperanza Spalding's performance on this year's Academy Awards ceremony as she sang "What A Beautiful World" during the In Memoriam segment. I went to my computer immediately to my computer to see if she was working on a new album and to my delight, one was to be released shortly thereafter. Radio Music Society should be added to your collection today as a companion CD to Robert Glasper's Black Radio! First and most important, be sure to buy the Deluxe Edition. It contains a DVD with a thoughtful, creative music video for each song on the CD. As much as I love the songs, the videos made me love the songs on a new and deeper level. Esperanza is the right artist delivering the right music at the right time. My favorite songs for now are as follows:

>>>Radio Song - Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! How many times have you instantly loved a new song that "you can't help singing along even though you never heard it. You keep singing it wrong". Soulful, jazzy, and fun! I instantly related to Radio Song. She proved her point well.

>>>Black Gold (w/Algebra)- If not another soul celebrates the value and beauty of a young Black man in song, Esperanza does so in this song of affirmation. It is a refreshing message - one that I hope inspires parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. to repeat it constantly to the young men in their lives. (I can't help thinking about Trayvon Martin when I hear this song and it hurts that he can't hear these words.)

>>>Cinnamon Tree - Many artists have sung sexual songs. But Esperanza gives us a sensual rendering that's a bigger turn-on then most songs I've heard. A celebration of various attributes including the sensuous hues and strength of that special object of desire.

>>>I Can't Help It - She brilliantly pays tribute to music legends Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Her work on electric bass is A-MA-ZING! I REALLY love the video for this one!

>>>Crown & Kissed - I'd love to hear this live! Upbeat and uplifting with a killer trombone celebration.

These appear early on the CD. They may be my favorites because it's hard to get past them to listen to the rest of the CD. This is typical of great CDs; Radio Music Society is no exception. Esperanza is my hero, a petite being with immense talent and an encompassing spirit. She deserves much success. When she comes my way, I'll certainly be among those enjoying her live performance.
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Esperanza Spalding delivers 2012's Radio Music Society off of the hype of her 2011 unorthodox win for Best New Artist, the first jazz artist to do so. Radio Music Society provides a number of styles including jazz, soul, classical and pop. While the album uses the genre of jazz as its ultimate focal point, Spalding and company do a fine job of making jazz appeal to larger audience through the effort's crossover endeavors. The front portion of the album is the strongest, while the ends sags ever so slightly. For the most part, Radio Music Society is a well-crafted affair.

"Radio Song" opens the effort with a bang, filled with superb production and arrangements. The album opens with Spalding singing neutral "la's" and eventually incorporating her cutting edge electric bass playing into the mix. The percussive groove established is addictive while the horn riffs are incredibly `delicious.' Spalding sounds angelic, classic, and jazz vocally, making "Radio Song" the valedictory cut from the effort. Anchored by the hook line "...this song's the one...," "Radio Song" really is the one to beat. "Cinnamon Tree" is slightly less exceptional, but still very much a top contender from Radio Music Society. "Cinnamon Tree" plays into an R&B/soul vibe, contrasting the `tongue-in-cheek' show tune vibe of the opener. The opening is notable for its classical music sound, anchored by expressive cello playing by Jody Redhage. Aside from all the stylistic differences, "Cinnamon Tree" favors a slower tempo than the opener.

"Crowned & Kissed" is superb, yielding some lovely horn orchestrations. Additionally, the harmonized background vocals, a solid trombone solo (Jeff Galindo), and an angular, creative vamping section make "Crown & Kissed" so strong. The sound is easy going overall and the songwriting is excellent. "Land of the Free" contrasts the looseness of "Crowned & Kissed" in favor of a spare arrangement finding Spalding accompanied by the gospel, bluesy organ playing of James Weidman. The cut is not one you would repeatedly listen to over and over per say, but it does showcase commanding vocals by its muse and definitely sends a message. The brief cut closes without finishing the lyrical thought: "in the land of the..." The abrupt ending signifies that `freedom' is still a challenge, and the message resonates.

"Black Gold" features Algebra Blesset and fuses soul and jazz. The progression is clever and again the assortment of sounds must be acknowledged to the utmost. Spalding and Blesset deliver relaxed, yet nuanced vocal performances that are pure. Lionel Loueke delivers solid guitar lines while the Savannah Children's choir provides some excellent background singing. The chorus is simple yet effective: "You are black gold, black gold..." "I Can't Help It" finds Spalding covering Stevie Wonder's classic with the help of lauded jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano, who yields some excellent, tasteful contributions. The use of the Rhodes is quite appropriate for the soulful vibe and nature of the cut. Spalding treats the soul cut easily by pulling back instead of pushing, which helps to differentiate this re-arrangement from the Wonder classic. "Hold On Me" follows and proves to be the first cut that Spalding opts to play acoustic bass as opposed to electric. The listen is enjoyable, but less memorable than some of the more dynamic offerings from the effort.

"Vague Suspicions" opens with a nice, if mysterious guitar ostinato provided by Ricardo Vogt. As always, Spalding's bass lines (acoustic) are clever and creative. Legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette truly anchors down the cut while Daniel Blake doubles on flute and soprano saxophone. Again, orchestrations are top notch with the blend of soprano sax and trombone being a sound one. "Endangered Species" is easily the album's second best (second to "Radio Song") where Spalding adds lyrics to the Wayne Shorter/Joseph Vitarelli classic. This cut is probably the most creative showing of the album and restores any lost momentum (not that there was much lost). The track, though a jazz classic, fuses jazz and soul to yield a `treat' for the listener.

"Let Her" makes use of asymmetrical meter to change pace ever so slightly, coupled with an overall angular arrangement. The refrain is simple but effective: "She's gone, bye bye so long..." "City of Roses" and "Smile Like That" close the effort solidly enough, but neither truly captivate like "Radio Song," "Crowned & Kiss," or "Endangered Species."

Overall, Radio Music Society is a strong showing for Spalding. There are few misses or qualms to mention. While Radio Music Society is not necessarily the next, great crossover album, it does offer enough well written and produced performances to appeal to a wide audience. Recommended especially for jazz lovers!
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on May 30, 2012
RMS is Esperanza's best compilation yet! Wanted to pick a favorite cut to list here. Too hard. Just know you can't go wrong with this one or any of her music. We've been fans for five years. ES keeps getting better...Love her. She SO deserves all the awards and high praise. Glad to see the powers get it right this time.
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on March 12, 2013
Esperanza Spalding and her Radio Music Society was selected as Jazz Artist and Album of the year at 77th Annual Readers Poll of the Downbeat magazine. This is not the reason I bought this album. Before I heard her at Tokyo Jazz 2012 in the last September, I thought I had pretty much sense of what Esperanza Spalding meant to current jazz scene: In the Downbeat magazine and the Jazz Times magazine she was featured several times as the most impressive singing jazz bassist, an ambassador for improvised music with chops to match her charm. She appeared at the White House and played before President Obama. She won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011. However, I only recognized her as another one of new talents who wear the badge of jazz musician until I saw her live stage. I was overwhelmed by her aura with sumptuous Afro. It was like Advent of Singing Goddess who is painted on the cover of Bitches Brew by Mati Klarwein. This impression forced me to buy this album.
A lot of songs in this album deal with serious topics, but they don't feel preachy. She only shows how she feels, how she really think something sounds. The album is both a paean to radio and a call for something stronger than what real radio is feeding us. Inserted redeem card is valuable, which takes us to short films that connect throughout to the music. According to the article of Jazz Times, her life was filled with struggle. Even under severe circumstances, her mother taught her wisdom borne of relativism and respects. She raised her children with the order of the household, discussion, not denial, of her surroundings. Music in this album represents Esperanza's personal history well. She enjoys diligent cultivation in a slick, ambitious project laden with R&B with veterans like Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Hart, Lionel Loueke, Lalah Hathaway and Terri Lyne Carrington. I'm very confident this album lure new audience to jazz. In this March she comes back to the stage in Tokyo. I'm expecting to seeing her live performance again.
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