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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Esperanza Spalding

By Marty Lipp
Published July 22, 2008

Heads Up

Listening to 23-year-old Esperanza Spalding, it’s easy to forget about prodigy issues and just enjoy her mellifluous music-making. A Boston-based jazz singer and bass player, Spalding has accomplished much already not only has she backed prestigious players, but she became the youngest professor at the Berklee College Of Music, even though at the time she was still too young to order a drink at the clubs where she was playing. Spalding has a sweet, lithe voice that she uses to playfully bend and twist her melodies, and although she’s a wisp of a thing hauling around a huge double bass, she manages to fold the instrument deftly into the background of her small, piquant combo. Groove-oriented to the max, Spalding and her cohorts are more than adept at walking the fine line between innovation and accessibility the music has a fine production sheen, but it’s rife with interesting textures and workmanship that deepen the charms of Spalding’s incandescence.