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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radio-Friendly and Hugely Impressive.
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...
Published on 2 April 2012 by Bruce

versus
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Radio Music - To Sleep To
Esperanza Spalding has certainly reaped the rewards due her undoubted talent, notably winning the 'Best New Artist' at the Grammys in 2011 and 'Jazz Artist Of The Year' at the Boston Music Awards, events which also served to introduce her to a wider music audience (reflected in the renewed interest in 'Chamber Music Society' (2010) and the earlier 'Esperanza' (2008) and...
Published 21 months ago by Music Lover


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radio-Friendly and Hugely Impressive., 2 April 2012
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars radio music society, 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it., 29 Dec 2013
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Classy jazz at it's best, A refreshing change. Although my teenage son hates it.!!! But he does like Em & em
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love Esperanza, 8 Dec 2013
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 31 Oct 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars good tunes and voice, 21 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Nu Jazz, 9 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Less improvised, more radio friendly..., 26 Jun 2012
By 
Amillionmiles (Hove, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
In the past 6 years, Esperanza Spalding has released 4 superb albums, all very different in their own way. This fourth and most recent offering "Radio Music Society" possesses more soul and funk than any modern R&B record I have listened to this past decade. The arrangements are so laid back, her vocals are once again spot on and the lyrics are interesting and purposely chosen.

"Radio Song" is a great opener and blends Soul, Jazz and Funk to perfection. "Cinnamon Tree" is a very soulful ballad, quite similar to what Jill Scott could have composed at the top of her game, but with much more improvisation and interesting changes in the melody. "Crowned & Kissed" continues in the same vein and is yet again a delicious soul influenced uptempo Jazz composition with some great vocal harmonies. "Land Of The Free" is a quiet but effective Blues and Gospel influenced track. The lead single "Black Gold" is a lovely inspirational song with a sweet melody and wonderful vocals from both Esperanza and Algebra. It is followed by the wonderful Stevie Wonder cover "I Can't Help It" which adapts itself to Jazz so effortlessly. "Hold On Me" and "Vague Suspicions" possess a much stronger Jazz feel than the other songs and are very sentimental creations. "Endangered Species" is an intriguing pure slice of Funk, featuring the additional vocals of the songstress Lalah Hathaway and "Let Go" has a catchy funky chorus, reminiscent of the 70's. The magical "City Of Roses" is another exceptional song with a beautiful soulful chorus, making it the highlight of the album. "Smile Like That" ends the album on a positive and delicate note, with subtle arrangements, sweet vocals and uplifting lyrics.

"Radio Music Society" is certainly more accessible than Esperanza's previous releases as it touches on Soul and Funk quite extensively but, at the same time, this recording still manages to retain the quality of her unique artistry. Esperanza adds a new dimension to her already accomplished and successful career and attempts to reach out to a broader audience. She is an artist who wants to be listened to and should be.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 1 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
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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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Radio Music - To Sleep To, 19 July 2012
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This review is from: Radio Music Society (Audio CD)
Esperanza Spalding has certainly reaped the rewards due her undoubted talent, notably winning the 'Best New Artist' at the Grammys in 2011 and 'Jazz Artist Of The Year' at the Boston Music Awards, events which also served to introduce her to a wider music audience (reflected in the renewed interest in 'Chamber Music Society' (2010) and the earlier 'Esperanza' (2008) and 'Junjo' (2006)). 'Radio Music Society' is her fourth solo album, with a cover that that may be intended to suggest (or warn) potential listeners of an altogether different aesthetic, visually and sonically, than that heard previously on 'Chamber Music Society'. This impression may also have been reinforced by the choice of 'Black Gold' (Featuring Algebra Blessett and Lionel Loueke) as the first lead single. The question is, does the music match the expectation?

The disc opens with 'Radio Song', beginning with a soft vocal refrain accompanied by a solid electric bass, before opening up into a paen of love for the Radio, gracefully executed with lovely horn arrangments and notable saxophone work (Daniel Blake). This is, despite expectations, material familiar to Jazz and Soul fans, and arguably the meandering pace over-extends and exposes the essentially simple nature of the song. 'Cinammon Song' allows Spalding to showcase the beguiling quality to her voice, enveloping the listener over a gently unwinding groove that echoes the feel (though not the social or keenly articulated bite) of contemporary artists Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. 'Crowned & Kissed' is rooted in a groove (produced by Q-Tip) maintained by the piano's chugging chords, whilst 'Land Of The Free' features Spalding singinging accompanied omly by James Weidman's organ. This segues in to 'Black Gold', delivered in a typically assured manner. This offers one of the melodic highlights on the album, but the message of affirmation borders on the lyrically naive, and ultimately (replete with the Savannah Children's Choir) feels oddly manipulative. 'I Can't Help It' (featuring Gretchen Parlato on backing vocals) allows Spalding the opportunity to take a Stevie Wonder song and rework it anew, and it is delivered in a smooth and distinctly laid back manner, continued through the big band leanings of 'Hold On Me' and 'Vague Suspicions'. 'Endangered Species' is a cover of a Wayne Shorter song (for whom she has expressed her admiration publicly) and takes the album in to a different gear (a fusion of Jazz and Funk) with the magnificent voice of Lalah Hathaway, which counterpoints against Spalding's lighter tones. The album then returns to a slower pace with 'City Of Roses' and concludes with 'Smile Like That'.

So. Do you buy?

Fans of her previous work can relax as this certainly isn't an abandonment of her previous Jazz stylings, and as before her voice caresses with a light touch that can be seductive and playful, whilst also displaying a carefully considered control through the stylistic references to Jazz Fusion, Soul and Funk. The musicianship on display is unquestionably fine, the recording and production excellent, but ultimately there is a sense that for a lady born in 1984, a great deal is missing in the musical narrative that she constructs that can be heard in the music of artists working within the same tradition (Roy Hargrove, Robert Glasper, Christian Scott, Zara McFarlane, Ledisi, Gregory Porter et al), and in comparison this feels artfully inauthentic.

It would be foolish to question the fact of her talent, but the overall feel of this album is too constrained and uninspired, and one can only hope that future efforts will be more imaginative and wider ranging musically.

5.5/10
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Radio Music Society
Radio Music Society by Esperanza Spalding (Audio CD - 2012)
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