GREC – Esperanza Spalding: Mixed

Not as pop as she looks (photo: Sandrine Lee)

Not as pop as she looks (photo: Sandrine Lee)

Another week, another pleasant night at Teatre Grec… mostly. Marketing rules in today’s troubled music industry – that is how Esperanza Spalding‘s concert was positioned as “jazz for those who love jazz… and for those who don’t often listen to jazz”. Well, not really. This lively bass player has the right looks, moves, and attitude to appeal to a wider audience, but what she does is actually pure, uncompromised jazz, and it can get a bit tough for untrained ears. The band was great, both in terms of collective sound and solos, but I was sort of disappointed by Esperanza herself: while her technique is sound and the way she mixes spoken word with singing as she introduces each song is charming, her voice is simply not strong enough to stand out among such a powerful group of musicians. I found her squeaky at times, and generally trying too hard to be the singer she is not. Judging from the live videos you find on the Web, it might have just been a bad day – but since that was when I happened to see her play, I was left with mixed feelings and one more reason to stigmatize what I call “desperate marketing”.

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 7 out of 10.


One response to “GREC – Esperanza Spalding: Mixed

  1. Eric Murphy

    Can’t speak for the show you saw, but I’ve long had the feeling that Ms Spalding is tainted by marketing. Listening to her recordings, I love them… until she opens her goddamn mouth. Wish she’d just kick back and play that bass, which she does beautifully. I think it’s a curse for female musicians the way they always have to be “sexed up” by the people selling their music; perhaps Ms Spalding does indeed think of herself as a singer as well as a bassist, but the way she’s presented kind of reminds me of those classical albums where you see some lady who plays Bach’s Bradenburg concertos posing on the cover of her album in a bra and scarlet lipstick.