contemporary jazz is obviously a niche genre and likewise has a niche audience, but as a mostly non-consumer of contemporary jazz, esperanza spalding has successfully gotten me hooked.
i didn’t grow particularly fond of the portland native’s last album, chamber music society, which won her the 2011 grammy for best new artist (over justin bieber- thank goodness!). don’t get me wrong – it was definitely a beautifully produced album, showcasing spalding’s insane musical talents and vocals that are to die for. but it didn’t grab me like her self-entitled 2008 album did with songs like “precious”, “i know you know”, and “ponte de areia”.
but she came out with a more accessible album last january, radio music society. she aimed for more of a pop feel fused with her signature contemporary jazz sounds, and what a great accomplishment! her vocals, lyrics, and bass playing are, as always, beautiful to listen to. and q-tip, who produced the album, did such a great job infusing the right amount of pop r&b styles without jeopardizing the integrity of spalding’s undeniable jazz talents.
here are my favorites from the album. i implore you to take a listen, at least to these songs, in the case that spalding makes you too a believer in jazz, the genre born and perfected here in the u.s.
- radio song
- city of roses
- cinnamon tree
- crowned and kissed
- black gold