Esperanza Spalding ‚Emily’s D+Evolution‘: One hell of a fusion-queen

I am not that much into jazz. I like the great grand jazz ladies but modern jazz and free jazz is something that I can’t really get into. My boyfriend is into jazz. When we met and I told him that I was some sort of a music journalist he – like all, mainly male, people – listed all musicians I should know. To further prove his point he played me endless songs by female jazz musicians. Mostly white, mostly with voices as thin as silk and the excitement of a good, weekly three-hour meeting at work. I thought, ‚Yeah, I really don’t like Jazz, that must be it.‘

Now, I am in the middle of listening to Grammy-winning jazz singer Esperanza Spalding on her new album and it’s divine. DIVINE! And I am thinking that maybe I just don’t like the weirdly detached, flat and quite static jazz interpretation of mostly white women with thin voices. „Emily’s D+Evolution“ is fun because it uses all elements that jazz could offer and plays with them. Whether it’s the waterfall of a vocal line or the maddest bassline slowly growing through the song while an electric guitar makes every Frank Zappa-fan cry tears of joy, the whole album sounds fresh, exciting and adventurous. This is not someone who learned jazz and then decided to only play it as it was taught. This is someone who learned jazz, loved a lot of different other genres as well and combined them with gusto. And the gusto comes through Spalding’s simply incredible adeptness at pretty much every single instrument.

We got the piano, violin, bass guitar and the proper classic Bass (and probably some other instruments she just learned for fun). Aside from that, Esparanza sings like any of the greats. I mean, this is a multi-facetted musician who loves to experiment and has a great sense of melody, dramaturgy and humor in her music. She is basically the Peter Gabriel of jazz (only that she plays a lot more instrument than Peter does, ha!).

That video is a mess, though.


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