Spalding_span3
June 2008

Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza
Heads Up

There’s a Latin-jazz revolution going on courtesy of young Esperanza Spalding. And though the Portland composer/bassist/singer’s Esperanza plays more by the rules than they, hers is as formidable a sound as Santogold’s take on reggae-rock or M.I.A.’s look-see into hip-hop. Whether scatting in a lilting but solid vibrato atop choppy blocks of piano (“I Adore You”) or finding the right wronged words to go with silken rhythms (“She Got to You”), Spalding’s voice slips through each of her intricately crafted arrangements as if imbued with the spirit of Flora Purim. Only Spalding’s melodies are more punctual and sprightlier than the airy Airto-isms of Purim. But they never lack in dynamism. Though the tunes damn near dance with the bluntly arranged pop devil through the carnival cool of “I Know You Know,” the gentle ricochet sway of “Ponta De Areia” proves risk is as much a necessity to the Berklee instructor as sweetness.

Originally published in June 2008
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