I’m going to be brutally honest with you now: I’m a fucking idiot. My brother bestowed the blog-writing duties onto me from half way across the world and, caught up in some useless bullshit (mainly that Borders is going bankrupt and our thousands of vouchers are now null and void) I forgot. So, I am here today, on Sunday morning, pleading for your forgiveness O faithful reader, and in exchange will give you the best song you’ve heard all year! Two, very long Spanish sounding words. Esperanza Spalding. She took out the Canadian Lesbian for the best new artist Grammy and since then everyone has wanted a piece of her. Despite the fact that I could go on a rant about how her Wikipedia page was demolished by little, outraged Bieber fans across the globe, I’m here to bring it back to what matters most, the music.
The fact that she became the first Jazz artist to win the award for best new artist is a testament to her talent as a multi-instrumentalist and her originality as a unique holistic package. She looks somewhat like Corrine Bailey Rae and her pipes are just as pure, but it’s the incredible grooves that she creates in her songs, jamming along on the now sexy double bass that stands her apart. The track ‘I Know You Know,’ off her self titled 2008 album, ‘Esperanza,’ is a microcosmic representation of all she has to offer. From the opening few seconds I could tell this girl was a tour de force. The groove is deceptively unhinged and seems that it could tip over at any time, but Esperanza’s vocals kick in just in time to save the offbeat ridden rhythm section. What follows is an array of jazz vocal techniques that are both astounding (descending chromatic flourishes) and filled with a beautiful spaciousness.
The background to such raw talent seems to follow a certain formula with the childhoods of some of the greatest jazz legends (Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis) each sharing some characteristics with that of Spalding. Born in Portland, Oregon (no similarity there) little Esperanza was raised by her single mother in the King neighbourhood, what she describes as “Ghetto,” and at the age of just five, she had already taught herself how to play violin. From there Spalding learnt an array of instruments. How she taught herself the guitar is the best story though, as she explains how she followed her mother to guitar lessons at college and sat under the piano listening before running home and practicing the music the teacher had just been playing by ear. ‘Ingrained at birth,’ is how some music historians explain such an intrinsic gift that needs only inspiration to set it alight.
Thankfully for the music world Spalding eventually came across the double bass, her instrument of choice describing her instant attraction to be like “waking up one day and realizing you’re in love with a co-worker!” The intricate melodies that she has woven ever since stem from this powerful love for her music and it resonates clearly for the listener.
‘I Know You Know,’ speaks volumes about Esperanza’s talent with its interwoven Brazilian feel epitomised in the conga rhythms, vocal gymnastics and most importantly the bass groove to end all bass grooves. Even if Jazz isn’t your thing, Esperanza Spalding injects a fresh vitality into the once ailing genre, and with the Grammy win under her belt it seems as though nothing can stop this afro-topped sensation!
Esperanza Spalding – I Know You Know
Keep balling with Spalding here.