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Esperanza Spalding

Radio Music Society (Concord)

Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012

ACL Music Fest Friday Reviews

Esperanza Spalding

Radio Music Society (Concord)

Last year, when Esperanza Spalding became the first jazz musician to win the Best New Artist Grammy – beating out Justin Bieber to the outrage of a nation of Beliebers – she catapulted from the obscurity of her genre to the international stage. The part-time Austinite and full-time bassist follows up that upset with fourth disc Radio Music Society, which follows 2010's Chamber Music Society and finds her moving away from Latin and South American sounds toward a groove-oriented (and political) vision of contemporary jazz. The scathing "Land of the Free" takes on racism and wrongful imprisonment, ending abruptly with a clank of prison doors, while "Black Gold" is a smooth-jazz pep talk for black youth. The more traditional "I Can't Help It" features bop saxophonist Joe Lovano, positioning Spalding as an artist looking forward and back, a powerful stance. (3:30pm, Barton Springs stage)

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