LIVE: Esperanza Spalding @ The Egg, 1/23/11, Part II

January 27th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg

Esperanza Spaulding

On the coldest night of the year enough people bought advance tickets Esperanza Spalding’s show was moved to the larger of The Egg’s two theaters. A comfortable-looking chair, lamp and table supporting a flower vase and bottle of red wine were set on a rug in front of the lowered curtain at the start of show. Fresh from recent performances with Joe Lovano (who performs at The Egg this Sunday), Spalding sauntered out onto this living room scene and slowly took off her scarf, coat and high-heels. After she poured a glass of wine she raised it to the crowd as her accompanying string trio of violinist Sara Caswell, violist Lois Martin and cellist Jodi Redhage began the first tune from behind the curtain.

“Little Fly”, the opening track from her third album of mostly original compositions “Chamber Music Society,” showed the audience what was in store that evening with Esperanza’s voice soaring before she even began pedaling the open E string on her bass. Each song from the record was performed Sunday evening – if you don’t own it yet go buy a copy!

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LIVE: Esperanza Spalding @ The Egg, 1/23/11, Part I

January 27th, 2011, 12:00 pm by Sara

Esperanza Spaulding

After reading a glowing profile in The New Yorker last spring and hearing about her guest spots with Prince and Joe Lovano, I admit I expected to be blown away last Sunday night at The Egg, when the Grammy-nominated singer and double bassist Esperanza Spalding graced us with her unique vision of classic jazz tempered with classical music. What I took away was an abundance of ambition which often overshadowed this artist’s still maturing compositional skills.

Things started promisingly, with Spalding taking a seat stage left to take her shoes off and sip a bit of red wine, proffering a toast to the audience afterwards – one of the more charming ways to open a performance by such a ballyhooed performer. The curtains then opened to reveal her band, the Chamber Music Society, built around the string section of Sara Caswell (violin), Lois Martin (viola) and Jody Redhage (cello). The group launched into a sinuous and wordless melodic excursion named “Knowledge of Good and Evil”, which featured plenty of scatting from the band leader. Spalding’s range and timbre is reminiscent of the constrained mezzo soprano of Diana Ross, a not so compelling voice to feature on such convoluted melodic flights. Things continued in much the same vein with “Little Fly” and “Really Very Small”, with Spalding using imagery of wind, leaves and insects to convey some sort of wind-blown motif, appropriate for one of the coldest nights this region has ever seen (outside the comfy confines of The Egg, temps were reaching down to -15F.)

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