Album Review: Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society

by Couch Sessions

Esperanza Spalding – Little Fly
from Chamber Music Society (Buy On Amazon)

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25 years old and already at the head of the Jazz class; Esperanza Spalding’s new CD Chamber Music Society is an exploratory composition with a few musical like minds. It embodies art in it’s rarest and most creative form.

Chamber Music Society seems to be more playful than Spalding’s self titled debut. She is exploring her voice and range as well as “jamming” with fellow musicians to create skillfully crafted bodies of work. Esperanza was all about Esperanza but it was a great album with more than a few tracks worth mentioning; “I Know You Know”, “Precious” and the classic “Body and Soul” are just a few. Yet, it was only the tip of the iceberg for Spalding. Chamber Music Society is like the next lesson in Jazz for those novice listeners and a refreshing new ear opener for those well acquainted with Jazz. Esperanza is slowly and unintentionally building a bridge between music listeners as she is just doing what she does. Having the amazing Terri Lynne Carrington on drums, violinists Entcho Todorov and Lois Martin, cellist David Eggar and the sensational Gretchen Parlato on vocals not to mention her “musical hero” Milton Nascimento; Spalding has created an honest and talent driven album that boasts of true artistry.

The title Chamber Music Society was rather intriguing as well.  This writer has always considered the term chamber music to mean classical as in Mozart. In the case of this CD it is an art music, Jazz, that is performed by a small number of instruments in an intimate setting, a classical Jazz jam session if you will, amongst friends. The first track “Little Fly” was inspired by the William Blake poem The Fly. Tracks like “Wild is the Wind”, infuse international sounds and slowly build to a rhythmic march that takes you on a musical journey. Esperanza’s vocals are crystal clear and superbly delivered. “Apple Blossom”, the tale of a couple that frequented an apple blossom tree yearly before life consumed one mate is a duet with Milton Nascimento. Their voices complement one another like a father/daughter duet. The Bossa Nova track “Inútil Paisagem” with vocalist Gretchen Parlato is a sure favorite with Spalding and Parlato harmonizing vocals and a Jazz bass “beat box”.

Lyrically poetic, musically intriguing, vocally impeccable, and technically flawless; Chamber Music Society is a perfect release for fall. It has all of the nuances needed for a relaxing Sunday afternoon with rustled sheets, an oversized mug of tea and a great book.

Tracks I repeatedly listen to are:

“Winter Sun”

“Inútil Paisagem”

“Wild Is The Wind”

  • Belle Boussole

    Esperanza is simply amazing. It’s so cool to be able to clearly watch the lineage of jazz greats unfold. All to often we think of all the jazz greats being in the past, but along with the likes of Josh Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkle, and Brad Mehldau, Esperanza Spalding is clearly defining the present tense of jazz, and helping to create direction for it’s future. Wonderful album!

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