New Jersey Stage
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Kean Stage Presents Esperanza Spalding
"Esperanza" is the Spanish word for "hope," and bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding could not have been given a more fitting name. Blessed with uncanny instrumental ability, a multi-lingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic, the prodigy-turned-pro might well be the hope for the future of jazz and instrumental music.
After teaching herself to play the violin at age four, Spalding landed a spot on The Chamber Music Society of Oregon, where she played for ten years, being elevated to concertmaster at age 15. By then, she had also discovered the bass, and all of the non-classical avenues that the instrument could open for her. Before long she was playing blues, funk, hip-hop and a variety of other styles on the local club circuit.
At 16, Spalding left high school, and -- armed with her GED and aided by a generous scholarship -- enrolled in the music program at Portland State University. But it was at Berkley College of Music where, after three years of accelerated study, she not only earned a B.M., but also signed on as an instructor in 2005 at the age of 20 – an appointment that has made her the youngest faculty member in the history of the college.
Spalding's journey as a solo artist began with the May 2008 release of Esperanza, her debut recording, which went on to become the best selling album by a new jazz artist internationally that year. The highly acclaimed release was the first opportunity for a worldwide audience to witness her talents as an instrumentalist, vocalist and composer. Soon after release, Esperanza went to the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart where it remained for over 70 weeks.
Spalding appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the CBS Saturday Early Show, the Tavis Smiley Show, Austin City Limits and National Public Radio. Other highlights included two appearances at the White House, a Banana Republic ad campaign, the Jazz Journalists Association's 2009 Jazz Award for Up and Coming Artist of the Year, the 2009 JazzWeek Award for Record of the Year, and many high profile tour dates, including Central Park SummerStage in New York and the Newport Jazz Festival. That year she received an invitation from President Obama to perform at both the Nobel Prize Ceremony and the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo.
If Esperanza marked a brilliant beginning for this gifted young artist, then Spalding's August 2010 release, Chamber Music Society, sets her on an upward trajectory to prominence. Inspired by the classical training of her younger years, Spalding has created a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical chamber music traditions. Chamber Music Society finds Esperanza with a diverse assembly of musicians: pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, percussionist Quintino Cinalli, guitarist Ricardo Vogt, and vocalists Gretchen Parlato and the legendary Milton Nascimento. The string trio is comprised of violinist Entcho Todorov, violist Lois Martin and cellist David Eggar.
Ms. Spalding has presented this album with a number of tours across the USA and Europe, as well as travelling to Japan to play at the Blue Note club in Tokyo and down to the Cape Town Jazz Festival in South Africa. The album has been supported with television appearances on the top American late night chat shows, such as David Letterman and Jay Leno.
Tickets to the Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society USA Fall Tour are $35 standard, $20 seniors & students, and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 908.737.SHOW (7469), online at www.keanstage.com , or in person at Kean University's Wilkins Theater Box Office, located at 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ.