Esperanza Spalding buoyant, upbeat, winning at Paramount
Bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, celebrating the release of her new album "Radio Music Society," offered an upbeat and engaging concert at Seattle's Paramount Theatre Tuesday, April 24.
Special to The Seattle Times
Concert Review |
Esperanza Spalding's "Radio Music Society" concert opened with a giant, animated boom box — a playful prop that brought ripples of laughter and set the tone for a warm, intimate evening of jazz, funk, pop and soul.
Performing nearly two hours without intermission Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre, the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and bassist was upbeat and engaging.
Sporting an Afro as outgoing as her personality, Spalding had good reason to be in a buoyant mood. Her new album, "Radio Music Society," came out Tuesday. It's the companion album to her acclaimed 2011 release, "Chamber Music Society," and the latest in a series of successes that began with her jump from student to professor at Boston's Berklee College of Music.
Backing her was a redoubtable 11-piece band featuring keyboardist Leo Genovese, trombonist Corey King and trumpeter Ingmar Thomas. Spalding alternated between electric bass and double bass, playing in a fluid, captivating style.
Spalding opened with the inspirational "Hold On Me" from the new album. "Black Gold" offered positive reinforcement for young black males. "Cinnamon Tree," a tune about platonic love, was dedicated to a friend who had struggled to pass her bar exam.
The sprightly, 27-year-old performer often introduced songs with humorous anecdotes about her life, revealing a resilient, unsinkable personality that has helped her overcome challenges and savor her successes.
The band synthesized the sounds of tropical insects for the song "Endangered Species," a Wayne Shorter-Joseph Vitarelli composition to which Spalding added her own lyrics and intricate bass grooves. She dedicated the song to Earth Day and used it as a plug for the Amazon Aid Foundation, a conservation group she supports.
The main set closed with a boisterous, jam-oriented version of the new "Radio Song," about tunes on the radio that grab your attention and don't let go.
Accompanying herself on upright bass, Spalding concluded with a solo encore of "Precious," a tender, confessional ballad.
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