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Esperanza

4.7 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 20, 2008
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Product Description

Armed with uncanny instrumental chops, a siren voice that spans 3 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 an album that takes a completely fresh and refreshing approach to jazz by incorporating the rich traditions of soul, pop, world music and more. This bright young star and childhood prodigy landed gigs with Patti Austin, Joe Lovano and Pat Metheny before leaving school!

Amazon.com

Never mind that in 2005--at the age of 20--Esperanza Spalding became the youngest instructor in the history of Berklee College of Music. It's what's on wax that counts--or CD, or MP3, if preferred. On Esperanza, her debut set for Heads Up International, Spalding presents a prowess on the acoustic bass that many bassists with far more experience could be inspired by. Need proof? Check out "Mela," on which Spalding’s chops on the upright are matched (if not exceeded) by her tangerine-and-honey vocals. There is a lilt in her voice that, to be sure, puts the blind optimism of her youth front and center. But who needs another jaded jazz singer? This multi-lingual set starts off with the mellow, mid-tempo "Ponta De Areia." From there Spalding winds her way through an appropriate group of mostly self-penned songs that are simultaneously sweet, commanding, calming, and intense. Of particular note are the hopeful "Espera," and her take on "Cuerpo y Alma" (the jazz standard "Body & Soul" in Spanish). And yes, purists, she can scat. Her name, Esparanza, is the Spanish word for "hope." Here's hope for a bright future and satisfying career following this wonderfully refreshing album. --Eric C.P. Martin
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Heads Up
  • ASIN: B0014HC56K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,593 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Whistler VINE VOICE on August 2, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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
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Format: Audio CD
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.
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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