ACL Live Shot: Esperanza Spalding

Zilker Park, Oct. 12

ACL Live Shot: Esperanza Spalding
Photo by John Anderson

A quick rundown of the local landscapes that would have better suited Esperanza Spalding Friday afternoon: Bass Concert Hall. The Elephant Room. The HighBall. The Paramount. The Gypsy Lounge. Ming's Cafe on Guadalupe. That park outside Central Market. Even the Maudie's on Lake Austin Boulevard. The 27-year-old bassist is a wonder to see onstage – vibrant, loose, in complete control of her crack 11-piece band, but the uncommonly massive exodus after only a few songs spelled trouble for jazz's fate at such a scene-y fest. Not that Spalding cared in the least bit. The part-time local jazz master never strayed from her primary motive of, "Telling you all a little somethin' somethin' about what Radio Music is all about." Flipping scat lines and breathy, flighty lyrics over a big band strapped with modern reconstruction, she switched from electric bass to stand-up and stretched out her songs, twisting from Radio Music Society standard "Radio Song" to "Crowned & Kissed" with a joyful smile and syncopated step. Those who stuck around saw one of the best jazz talents in the prime of her life. Those who didn't proved a hard-earned lesson: it's tough playing jazz when everybody else just wants a hula hoop.

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