Friday, September 17, 2010


Wednesday night I had the pleasure of seeing Esperanza Spalding perform live selections from her newest album Chamber Music Society. It was such a pleasure to see her perform because I don't think I have ever witnessed a musician so young (my age) who has such maturity in both the music itself and its performance.

She is no doubt an accomplished musician. Jazz music, from her perspective, does not come off calculated, nor is it in any way even tempo'd or tempered. Her music dealt in poly rhythms I can not begin to comprehend. Accompanied by a pianist, violinists, another vocalist and a drummer, on one song they all seemed to literally be individual parts but they were woven together to make an awesome whole. Another treat was Spalding's rendition of "Wild as the wind" which she conquered with her own point of view, on par with the more familiar Nina Simone version.

I was enchanted by her and felt goosebumps on several occasions. Was it the music? Or was it her presence and performance?

She is tiny, so petite - and her upright bass is certainly bigger than her. She wore her hair simultaneously with wild abandon and as a crown of glory. Her eyes were covered in glitter which was all the more noticeable because they stayed closed during her scatting and singing. Her presence filled the room and her music filled the void where her physical presence could not reach. Her performance was possessed by divine womanly ancestor muses of music, but every now and again we could glimpse her girlish charm.

I was simply in awe. And I wonder, is it just because of her talent? Or is it because we don't see talent like this in the mainstream? Jill Scott, right now reigns supreme as my favorite vocalist because of her talent as a performer, but I can't help but wonder how many more Esperanza's and Jill's there are who we don't see? Or better yet, who we don't hear? How do we access them? How do they access us? How and where and when can we celebrate and support our true musicians?

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