Esperanza invites pop to her realm with new record

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 7:15 a.m. MDT

While Spalding's excited about the possibilities of new audiences embracing her music, the bassist said the album wasn't a calculated ploy for airplay or fans. Instead, it grew out of her work on "Chamber Music Society," which fused jazz sensibilities with classical. As she was coming up with themes for that album, she was working on other music that she knew wouldn't fit and would work better as a companion project.

"I thought, 'Now that would be a fun way and a very interesting way to sort of divvy up the music, if it was two halves of a piece,'" she said.

Among the jazz artists included on "Radio" are DeJohnette, saxophonist Joe Lovano, guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, the recent Grammy winner with whom Spalding recently performed as part of a group. The album was already in the works before Spalding's Grammy win, but really developed over the past year.

"Radio" was produced and arranged by Spalding, with a production assist from Q-Tip, and she wrote every track but the album's two cover songs. It also comes accompanied by 11 videos that flow seamlessly like a film, including images of her falling in love with another woman, a gay man and referencing the horrors of war.

"Esperanza is the one who dictates what she wants to do, and because we believe in her so much, that's exactly how it goes down. It's one of those things where here, creativity trumps everything else," said Wexler. "There's no doubt that we're looking at this album, 'Radio Music Society,' as an opportunity to make as many people aware of this creative being as possible ... (but) that doesn't change her approach at all, and that's the thing that you have to admire."

It also means there's little chance of Spalding becoming yet another act whose artistry is diluted in the pursuit of pop stardom, because that's not what she's after.

"My name, my face — I am the representative of this work, this art that I am pursuing. So when I'm invited into these realms that typically aren't made available to jazz musicians, I'm there as just that, a representative of my work, and nothing more, and nothing less really," she said.

Online:

http://www.esperanzaspalding.com

Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

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