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4.5 out of 5 stars24
4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 April 2012
There is a lot to be impressed by here - in terms of the playing, compositions and arrangements. This is obviously a companion piece to Chamber Music Society. But these two album are very different. The "chamber" album was all acoustic and lightly orchestrated - it was gentle music inspired by nature.

This album however, has moments of chamber music calm, but generally it is funkier, with Spalding's own funky, electric bass lines to the fore. For any bass players, she is compulsive listening and the bass propels a lot of tracks into Jazz/Funk workouts that are complex and tricky.

Wayne Shorter's "Endangered Species" is a stand-out funky take on a Jazz original with added lyrics and great playing all round. Terri Lyne Carrington on drums is a great partner in the rhythm section and their intuitive musical relationship promises a lot.

The other memorable and radio-friendly tune here is Stevie Wonder's "I Can't Help it" - written for Michael Jackson; here it is Jazzier and trickier, but really stands out and Esperanza really makes it her own. But perhaps this is why I feel I can only give this 4 stars - the original compositions while clever and "difficult" are rarely memorable. Apart from "Black Gold", they impress with their musicianship, but the substance is not always there.

Most tracks have great playing from a big cast of great Jazz musicians and about half the tracks are arranged for a big band which is almost like a small orchestra. Textures and dynamic contrasts abound - but in the end they can't make up for a memorable tune and it is the arrangements of other people's tunes which really stand out.

I see no problem with this and I hope that future albums see more like this and as Jazz musicians have done for decades - shaping something new out of existing material. I would also like to have had more improvised passages where the great musicians could stretch out - there is a lot of arranged material here and it shows that Esperanza Spalding has put in a lot of work here - but I enjoyed the parts where the musicians were allowed more freedom.

Maybe in future the albums could be less about the skill and the amount of work that has gone into it and more about just playing, just going for it? No doubt she is a great player and arranger, who has worked incredibly hard on her craft. I loved large parts of this album and many tracks are radio-friendly and could get a big crossover audience beyond Jazz. But I feel we still have the best of Esperanza Spalding to come and I for one, will be watching with interest.
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on 28 March 2015
I can't find adequate words to express how brilliant is the musical genius of Esperanza Spalding, as a singer, bass player and composer. In this latest project, she steps up the complexity of arrangement, mixing jazz with funky Motown, Jackson Five-like harmonies. Watching her perform live, one sees how effortlessly she entertains from a place deep in the heart, while playing the bass with understated but brilliant technicality, melodically a like a modern Jaco Pastorius, singing with grace and beauty that is hers alone, and communicating with the audience all at the same time, with charm to melt the hardest heart. This is one of the most brilliant (and complex) bits of music I've heard in a long time. Yet it is not pretentious at any level, as technical jazz can be. Having been disappointed by Junjo it was a pleasure to feel that this album immediately made up for everything. This is going to be one of those long-standing favourites. Now where is my bass? I suddenly feel the need to play it ...
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on 9 September 2013
An amazing album for the price. It's greta to hear the new modern jazz artists. Jazz is not dead, but alive and being expressed in such wonderfully unique and organic ways like Esperanza Spalding who's musical expression is more than refreshing.
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on 31 October 2013
A fantastic album, from a very talented and versatile artiste, with each track showcasing this. My personal favourites being, 'Cinnamon Song' and 'Endangered Species'. Something new to be heard and felt, that's why I love this album 5/5 stars
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on 21 September 2013
this is the 2nd album by esperanza i've recently bought. i wasn't disappointed. it's a fantastic album for anyone who's a fan, or loves a smooth, jazzy, modern soul-type sound. she's got a fantastic voice (possibly the best i've heard for years). my favourite tracks on this cd are 'radio song', 'black gold', and a great cover of the michael jackson hit 'i can't help it'. there are about 4 tracks on the disc i wasn't too struck on, but i guess as it was one of her first releases we'll excuse this. well worth a listen
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on 19 June 2016
It was well worth every penny this deluxe edition especially with the excellent bonus DVD. A much more commercial offering superb voice and her style is so engrossing. I haven't gone a day or two without listening to it. I have bought 3 of Esperanza's and this is my favorite most definitely. This is someone I would definitely love to see play live. I've watched so much live footage on YouTube.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 April 2012
Five HUGE Stars! Another major milestone achievement for bassist, singer, composer, arranger, and leader Esperanza Spalding! She seems to be all over these days, singing at the White House and the Academy Awards, fronting her own groups at festivals, winning jazz polls, performing with legendary jazz personages like Joe Lovano and Terri Lyne Carrington, and she shocked the music world becoming the first Jazz artist to win the "Best New Artist" Grammy in 2010. Following up her well-received Chamber Music Society, she expands her universe with this amazing "Deluxe" package of music CD, detailed liner notes with song lyrics, and a spellbinding one-hour video of "Radio Music Society-The Movie" that weaves the songs into visual stories. Esperanza plays both upright acoustic and electric bass. The star-studded cast that includes, among others, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart on drums, Gretchen Parlato, Algebra Blesset, and Lalah Hathaway on vocals, and Joe Lovano on tenor sax. This is marvelous music that combines jazz, R&B, soul, and funk, sung magnificently by Ms Spalding backed by "American Music Society" groups of up to 12 musicians. All songs are uniformly excellent, but the 'best of the best' includes the pure funky beauty of "Black Gold", a superb cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Can't Help It" with tenor sax titan Joe Lovano in solo and support, the shocking ending of the beautiful "The Land of The Free", the torch song "Hold On Me" reinforces the fact that she is already one of the best jazz vocalists around, and a lovely hip treatment of Wayne Shorter's "Endangered Species" with her own lyrics is now the definite version of this song. Produced and mostly arranged by Esperanza herself, this is a magnificent musical and video achievement. 2013 Best Jazz Vocal Grammy-winning CD. Bravo, Esperanza Spalding! My Highest Recommendation! Five AMAZING Stars (CD+DVD: 14 tracks: Time: Music- 61 mins: 35 secs; Video-1 hr: 06 mins:27 secs.)
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on 22 February 2014
this is a great jazz album bought wish i had waited for the special editon (dvd) had the album a while now but still playing it a lot will buy more of her music in the future
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on 8 December 2013
Love combination of Esperanza 's songs. I saw the video of Black Gold and loved the song immediately, it prompted me to buy this cd. Happy with my purchase.
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on 1 August 2012
A glorious selection of beautiful music ... what a voice. Put this on
if you feel a bit low and her silken tones will lift your spirits. I
believe she is one of Prince's favourite musicians and I totally understand
why. A valued addition to the eclectic range on my I-pod.
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