The Jazzcat

Esperanza Spaulding at Catalina Bar and Grill

by on Aug.07, 2008, under News

Okay, so it’s game 3 of the 2008 NBA Finals and I just had to watch the Lakers, right? Bad move, I should have been at the first set to see and hear the hot new bass sensation Esperanza Spaulding. After my basketball disappointment, I headed up to Catalinas Bar and Grill and figured I would cruise in for the last of the first set and then check her out for the second.

Bud walked in and got smacked by the rhythm! I have never seen Catalinas so packed. I mean you walk in the front door and that is it. Standing room only almost did not apply. Esperanza Spaulding is only here for one night and the fans as well as some heavyweight pros came to see what the hype is all about; and this time, you better believe it!  Immediately I heard this voice, young, strong and soaring over the audience. Then I looked up and saw the “Fro in motion”, movin’ and swayin’ while Esperanza’s fingers were workin’ the acoustic. Then I saw the smile. The smile of happiness with the feeling that all is right with life, the music and the world!

I have never seen a young lady with so much poise, so much control, so much charm and in command of not only both of her instruments, she is so tight she has the audience in the pocket! This is the kind of girl that belongs and demands the kind of success and fame that will surely come her way. This is because the talent, the cuteness, the brilliance and the marketability are all natural organically grown in Portland Oregon, packaged and shipped fresh to Berkley and ready for consumption. Not the normal made in Taiwan preservative infested manufactured product that we sometimes get thrust upon us in this music. She is down with the people and it is evident that the people are up on Esperanza!

She has the power to combine multiple languages, genres and generations as she easily reaches the masses up and down the age spectrum. So many of our really talented players get branded and labeled so quickly that the public has already been tainted even before they hear the music. I think we are all born with open ears and as soon as we start listening to someone else’s opinion about the music, weather by critic, radio personality or even best friend, the ability to hear the music becomes clouded and then, the ears start shutting down. Those who are locked into the drama of network news are certainly susceptible to this phenomenon.  However there are those strong personalities, the rule breakers, the kids who color outside the lines, that defy all of these myths and remain thirsty for more meaningful experiences with their music. The truth seekers!

But, weather truth seeker or not, there is no way to put a category dog tag on this young lady. She plays her truth and if that happens to be straight ahead, Latin tinged, funky or popular, you feel as though it is coming directly from her creativity and not a ploy for popularity. She does however recognize this and said that she did write a tune to buy 2 houses; one for her and one for her mom. Youthful ambition and natural talent is the right combination that just might make the damn thang happen!

She told a brief story about Donald Harrison as being one of her mentors. He spoke to her about writing a modern day hit because there have not been any since Cannonball! Well, I am not sure if the masters were writing tunes for hits. Their belief in their own creativity and the feeling of oneness with the music is what sparked success and if Esperanza continues to carry on that philosophy, “Esperanza riunfará y el mundo será bendecido con mucha más música para el alma”!

LeRoy Downs

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