Esperanza Spalding: Radio Music Society
A zenith to the already critically-acclaimed career of jazz artist/bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding seemed to occur in 2011 even though she had already garnered much notoriety with her three earlier albums. However, last year she won the Best New Artist Grammy as well as the Jazz Artist of the Year award at the Boston Music Awards. Her new album, Radio Music Society, continues onward and upward with that signature vibrant jazz fusion. The full-bodied tone of her voice is elegantly warm and possibly comparable to the charismatic dynamics of Minnie Riperton. Minnie had those octaves and as heady, Spalding has that tone. Radio Music Society is fun, it is funky, edgy in parts and full-hearted. “Cinnamon Tree” is full-on sexy and seems to speak in sensually steamy innuendo. Romantically endearing, upbeat and funky is “Crowned & Kissed.” “Land of the Free” takes a serious look at humanity and injustice by asking, “How can we call our home ‘the land of the free’ until we’ve unbound the praying hands of each innocent woman and man?,” which addresses unwarranted incarceration. Her rendition of Michael Jackson’s single pinned by Stevie Wonder, “I Can’t Help It” shimmers outside the realm of its pop sensibilities. Whether it is the uplifting “Black Gold,” or the woozy three is a crowd heartbreak on “Smile Like That,” Esperanza Spalding will remain that elegant exciting artist who dazzles while making jazz effervescent and new, meshing pop or rock or a deeper soul outfit in her own signature way.