Monday February 13, 2012
Esperanza Spalding: A Day in the Life of the Jazz Star
By: Abigail Pesta
It’s one of the coldest days of the year in Manhattan, with icy winds keeping most people indoors, but not Esperanza Spalding. The 27-year-old jazz artist is racing all over town. She spent the morning at a photo shoot for DownBeat magazine. Now she’s heading to a recording studio to fine-tune her next album. Tonight she’ll perform back-to-back sets at the Village Vanguard, the historic jazz club. But right now she’s taking a moment to grab a grilled-cheese sandwich at a café.
“I mean, you have to eat,” she says, as if she needs an excuse to sit still. Spalding doesn’t waste much time. She goes to bed early, gets up early, and practices the bass—her instrument of choice—every day. She rarely tweets, texts, or watches TV. “I want to,” she says, laughing. “I feel so out of the loop. I really admire people who work so much and still find the time to do that—they’re more bad-ass than me.” Still, her diligence pays. Since winning the Grammy for Best New Artist last year—besting Justin Bieber and infuriating his fans—she has performed 120 shows, hitting 15 countries and 50 U.S. cities. A new album, Radio Music Society, comes out next month.
She’s eager to hear the mix session for that album this afternoon, an indication of her hands-on approach. The engineer is a “genius,” she says. “But this is the last step where you make sure the balance of all the instruments is at a place where the music really comes through. I like to be a part of that.” The album is her fourth, and its 11 tunes are accompanied by short films, shot in New York, Spain, and Oregon.
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