Centuries ago, long before the advent of radio or recording technology, chamber music was the music for the masses – the music in which people from nearly every segment of society could find meaning and relevance. A decade into the 21st century, Esperanza Spalding – the bassist, vocalist and composer who first appeared on the jazz scene in 2008 – takes a contemporary approach to this once universal form of entertainment with Chamber Music Society, her August 17, 2010, release on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.
Backed by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and pianist Leo Genovese – and inspired by the classical training of her younger years – Esperanza creates a modern chamber music group that combines the spontaneity and intrigue of improvisation with sweet and angular string trio arrangements. The result is a sound that weaves the innovative elements of jazz, folk and world music into the enduring foundations of classical music.
“So much of my early musical experience was spent playing chamber music on the violin, and it’s a form of music that I’ve always loved,” says Esperanza. “I was very inspired by a lot of classical music, and chamber music in particular. I’m intrigued by the concept of intimate works that can be played and experienced among friends in an intimate setting. So I decided to create my version of contemporary chamber music, and add one more voice to that rich history.”
Chamber Music Society is a place where connoisseurs of classical music and jazz devotees – and fans of other musics as well – can find common ground. The recording offers a chamber music for modern times – one that brings together people of different perspectives and broadens their cultural experience, just as it did in an earlier age.
Esperanza first took the world by storm in 2008 with her self-titled Heads Up debut recording that spent more than 70 weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Two years later, she continues to push the boundaries of jazz and explore the places where it intersects with other genres. Co-produced by Esperanza and Gil Goldstein, Chamber Music Society surrounds Esperanza with a diverse assembly of musicians. At the core are pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and percussionist
Quintino Cinalli. The string trio is comprised of violinist Entcho Todorov, violist Lois Martin, cellist David Eggar and Gretchen Parlato on voice. The great Milton Nascimento also makes a guest appearance on one track.
“Gil is really a master at integrating a sound that caters to string instruments,” says Esperanza. “I’ve learned so much from working with him, and I’ve gained confidence in my abilities as an arranger and producer as well.”
In January 2011, Chamber Music Society climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart, and on February 13, 2011, Esperanza won the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. She is the first jazz musician to ever win this award.
On February 22, 2011, Heads Up will release a limited edition, 180 gram 2-LP set with exclusive bonus material. In addition to the repertoire on the original Chamber Music Society CD, the vinyl LP edition includes audio commentary by Esperanza, song snippets from the Chamber Music Society recording sessions and a sneak peek bonus track from Radio Music Society.