eMusic Review 0
It would have been easy for 25-year-old jazz prodigy Esperanza Spalding to recycle the commercially successful formula of her Esperanza album from 2008, in which her serious jazz chops were leavened by flippant funk, gentle tropical beats and coy vocal flirtation. But on Chamber, Spalding opts for deep artistry over the seductions of celebrity.
The child who experienced love-at-first-listen hearing cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Mr. Rogers and went on to become a concertmaster violinist at 15 here infuses Euroclassical tradition with her affinity for Brazil's samba and bossa nova orchestrations (exemplified by Milton Nascimento, who puts in an appearance here) and the rich harmonies and classical-jazz conception of her composing hero, Wayne Shorter. The result is a frequently striking, gorgeously performed collection by her jazz trio, abetted by a chamber trio of strings, albeit one that will take an open mind and a leap of faith for fans of Esperanza to fully appreciate. (It will be good practice: Spalding's next project is a hip-hop- and funk-oriented disc, Radio Music Society, coming in 2011.)
The biggest change in Spalding from two years ago is her growth as a vocalist. When I spoke with her last year, she was listening to… read more »