If “esperanza” is the Spanish word for hope, then bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding could not have been given a more fitting name at birth. Blessed with uncanny instrumental chops, a multi-lingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic, the 23-year-old prodigy-turned-pro might well be the hope for the future of jazz and instrumental music.
“Irresistible, Interpretive, Perceptive, such expressions are very much at the core of Spalding’s life story, but the story is anything but typical. She was born in 1984 and raised on what she calls “the other side of the tracks” in a multi-lingual household and neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Growing up in a single-parent home amid economically adverse circumstances, she learned early lessons in the meaning of perseverance and moral character from the role model whom she holds in the highest regard to this day her mother.
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Those following jazz ought to keep an ear on the bassist
ESPERANZA SPALDING, who is going about things her own
way. She's got good tone and conservatory training, but so
does everyone else these days. More important, she already
sounds distinct. Essentially she's a singer, using both her
instrument and her voice to similar ends. Her musicality is all
integrated: The Esperanza Spalding experience is light,
melodic, joyful, always sort of minimalist and airborne.
- Ben Ratliff, The New York Times