We were all watching when Esperanza Spalding's name was called as Best New Artist at the Grammys last night.
I went, "Huh?" My husband muttered, "Who's she?" and immediately Googled her. Beating out The Biebster, rapper Drake, and fan fave Florence + The Machine, Esperanza Spalding is the first jazz musician to win that award.
Who is she?
She saw Yo Yo Ma play bass on Sesame Street and taught herself to play violin. She became a professor at the Berklee School of Music at age 20 (she's 26 now). She's performed for Prince and President Obama, just to name a few. Who else feels like a slacker?
Jazz. Maybe the closest thing you get to jazz is listening to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" album (by the jazzy Vince Guaraldi Trio). Esperanza Spalding just beat out the leading music "It" boy with a hairstyle named after him. Methinks it kinda demands you give her a shot. I've selected my fave of hers, along with three jazz greats you should also listen to:
Though she won the award for Best New Artist, this was Esperanza Spalding's eighth album. Her debut album, Junjo, hit in 2006. Plenty of fabu choices here. My fave? "She Got to You" from her album Chamber Music Society. Really, the girl can do no wrong. Exhibit A: here she is playing for the White House Poetry Jam.
Ornette Coleman: One of the leading free jazz greats. Free jazz sound like a foreign language? All that means is they change up tempos and rhythms, and make it feel, well, free. The one to pick up from this violinist-saxophonist-trumpeter? The Shape of Jazz to Come. Buy it now.
Charles Mingus: Also a bassist like our recent Grammy winner, Mingus was known to be a wee bit angry, but he was the main leader in improvisation. My pick? Mingus Ah Um, specifically "Better Git It in Your Soul."
Pat Metheny: This guitarist's style? Jazz fusion, combining Latin style of jazz with modern jazz. It's a little "cooler," more chill kind of jazz. What a good sampling? Pat Metheny Trio: Live.
Will Esperanza Spalding's win get some jazz onto your iPod?
Image via YouTube