Spalding Hones Her Pop-Crossover Chops

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Thursday March 22, 2012

From The Boston Globe

Spalding Hones Her Pop-Crossover Chops
By: Steve Greenlee

“Chamber Music Society,’’ the album that netted Esperanza Spalding so much acclaim, not to mention the 2011 Grammy for best new artist, braided strands of jazz, light classical, and gentle R&B in ways that hadn’t precisely been done before. The record was fresh, intelligent, and graceful, if difficult to plug into any particular radio format, but it climbed the jazz charts nonetheless.

Given such success, her follow-up, naturally, is entirely different.

Spalding – the bassist, vocalist, and songwriter who grew up in Oregon and graduated from Berklee College of Music – calls “Radio Music Society’’ not a sequel but a companion to “Chamber Music Society.’’ Whereas none of the tunes on the earlier disc were natural fits for radio, one could imagine almost any of the dozen songs on the new one – most of which Spalding wrote – popping up on an FM station.

And not just jazz stations. This is, in fact, a pop record – but one crammed with more sophisticated songwriting and deep talent than all of the top 20 or 30 titles on the Billboard album chart combined. (The deluxe version includes a DVD featuring short films based on the songs.)

It’s obvious now: “Chamber Music Society’’ was not Spalding’s crossover record – this one is.

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