Thursday, March 22, 2012

Espearnza Spalding in Hollywood April 27

It has not taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Listeners familiar with her stunning 2008 Heads Up International debut, Esperanza, and her best-selling 2010 release Chamber Music Society, were well aware that the young bassist, vocalist and composer from Portland, Oregon was the real deal. With her unique and style-spanning presence, Spalding confirmed she would make her mark far beyond the jazz realm when she became the first jazz musician to receive the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist in February 2011. With the highly anticipated March 2012 release of Radio Music Society, Spalding expands on the idea of jazz-inspired-pop-radio music. Esperanza and her 12-piece Radio Music Society come to THE FONDA THEATRE – Friday, April 27th. Stage time is 8pm. The Theatre is located at 6126 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. For tickets go online to

Released on March 20th, 2012, Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, gives Spalding's latest release, Radio Music Society, her most diverse, ambitious and masterful recital yet. Shot in various locations including New York City; Barcelona, Spain; and Portland Oregon, 11 of the 12 songs are accompanied by conceptual short films, which further express Esperanza’s inspiration and story behind each track.

Radio Music Society is a companion, rather than a sequel, to Spalding’s previous disc, Chamber Music Society, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. “Originally I thought it would be fun to release a double album,” she explains, “One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize as “pop songs. On the pop song side, I think about listeners who aren’t into jazz, but I also think about the people within my musical community who can interpret each idea best.”

The opening track, “Radio Song”, both sets the tone and confirms the aptness of Spalding’s “radio music” metaphor. “Everyone has the experience of turning on a car radio,” she explains,” mindlessly flipping through the dial and suddenly a fragment grabs you. I wanted to capture that moment...”

In the process, Spalding added her original, affirmative perspective to classic radio music themes. Songs about love run a full gamut. “Hold On Me” is a narrative of unrequited love, inspired by people who cling to dreams of relationships that can never be realized. “Let Her,” one of Spalding’s older compositions, was inspired by “different people I’ve known who are in miserable situations, then complain when they end.” “Cinnamon Tree,” written to cheer up a friend, celebrates platonic love, and Spalding’s belief that “the love between friends is just as important as romantic love.”

“Crowned and Kissed,” with references to King Arthur and Midas, is about “the unsung royalty in your life, men and women who quietly, every day do the most honorable things, and who deserve to be honored even if they don’t end up with castles and thrones.” The edgy “Smile Like That” marks the moment a person realizes that his or her partner has developed other interests.

“Vague Suspicions” confronts society’s short attention span and our habit of absorbing horrific events and celebrity gossip as part of the same media overload. The brief “Land Of The Free” speaks to the sinister system of false imprisonment by outlining the case of one innocent victim who spent 30 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.

“Black Gold” is specifically addressed to young boys of color. “I wanted to address our nobility, going back to our incredible ancestors in pre-colonial Africa. I remember meetings when I was in elementary school about being strong as young black women, and I don’t think the boys had those meetings. This song is meant to speak to those young men.”

Radio Music Society also features “City of Roses,” a celebration of her native Portland, Oregon that Spalding was commissioned to write by Banana Republic, and two cover tunes. Taking the advice of one of her mentors, tenor saxophone giant Joe Lovano: “When you do a classic, you have to find your own reason for doing it.” Spalding charges Stevie Wonder’s “I Can’t Help It” with the energy of apprehensive new love and adds original lyrics to Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species.”

The music is realized by many of the brilliant musicians who are part of Spalding’s ever-expanding universe. In addition to longtime partners Lovano, keyboard player Leo Genovese and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, the ranks contain jazz legends Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart; guitar heroes Jef Lee Johnson and Lionel Loueke; an array of master vocalists including Algebra Blessett, Lalah Hathaway, Gretchen Parlato, Leni Stern and Becca Stevens; hip-hop giant Q-Tip (who performs on and co-produced two tracks); and two Portland-based musicians, Janice Scroggins and Dr. Thara Memory, who provided essential mentorship in Spalding’s youth.

Four tracks feature the horn section of the American Music Program, a youth big band of musicians age 12 to 18 directed by her longtime mentor and teacher Dr. Memory, who conducts and provides horn arrangements; while the soulful pianist on “Hold on Me” is Ms. Scroggins, who Spalding studied with as a child.

Radio Music Society is supporting Free The Slaves, an organization dedicated to ending slavery worldwide. A portion from the sale of the merchandise on our North American tour through May will be donated to this organization.

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