Photos: Corey Thompson/Photoleer
It was around this time last year that Esperanza Spalding grabbed the Grammy award for “Best New Artist”. I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of “well..its about time”. Spalding is not new to scene, nor is she someone you can easily forget after hearing her music. She’s a treasure to the industry. I appreciate her music. I adore her trailblazing efforts on being the first jazz musician to receive such an honor. In being a fan, I am excited for her and where she’s heading. My eardrums cartwheel when she plays on my iPod. Having an opportunity to experience her live only made my admiration of her stronger, and solidified my fan experience.
Spalding held an “invite only” event at the Florence Gould Hall Theater in NYC. The crowd was diverse. Everyone from CBS to Sony, music video extras, and radio contest winners were in attendance. Cash bars and a taste of sophistication was provided to the patrons as we awaited the opportunity to take our seats and be blessed with the magnificence that only Spalding knows how to bring.
With lights dimmed and seats taken, the show started. The space was already intimate enough where no formal introduction was necessary. Out comes the Radio Music Society band. Talk about a full force orchestra- every musical family was represented here. The show began with the horns (ah! You have to love the horns). Warming up to an asynchronous melody, the next sound you heard was from an illuminated radio. A tuning of sorts, there was presentation of sounds and “flipping through channels”. Fro and all, Esperanza steps out as the sounds of the tuned radio plays. Adorned in black, her only accessories are her upright bass and her red shoes. She begins to play to her heart’s content with a smile on her face. This is her moment. The audience watches her as she gets lost in her own melody. While being swept away by her tunes, she shares the stage with her orchestra, allowing each member to have a solo and shine in their own way. Don’t you just love an artist who shares the spotlight?
Can we mention the fact that I was in my seat secretly having hair envy?
One of the things to mention about Spalding is that she’s a story teller. Between each song she performed off of her new album, Radio Music Society, she engages the audience.
“We hope you enjoy us..because we enjoy you. So much so, that tonight, we will consider you royalty. So you can count yourselves as Kings and Queens, even if you don’t consider yourself as one…because we do.”
This was her introduction to “Crowned and Kissed”. Snaps and excited claps from onlookers showed approval of the aforementioned. Everyone was in love with what she was playing. How adorable was she to dedicate this performance to her audience. Though the instrument was twice her size, Spalding is an amazing bass player. Somehow, she managed to hold it with style and grace. She even dipped and danced with it a little bit, as if she was courting a new mate. She’s also a dope bass player. She strums the strings of her bass, as if the relationship between her and these strings were no different than that of her bass. As she performed the different tracks from her album such as “Cinnamon Tree”, ‘Black Gold”, “Smile Like That”, and “Let Her”, it was evident that Spalding has grown into an musical beauty that only needed a little light.
Spalding continues to be an inpiration for young people and musicians everywhere. Again, it is about time that folks started recognizing it.