Exposure: a milestone for Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding just released Exposure, the album recorded during a 77-hour improvisation that started September 12. It arrived in my mailbox yesterday, just in time for Christmas. She pressed only 7,777 copies of the CD. Pre-orders sold out before the live-streamed recording session. I’m glad I ordered my copy of this amazing album. Exposure defies categorization. Rooted in jazz, to be sure, but drawing on diverse styles. Some tracks continue the unique direction from Emily’s D+Evolution. As she states on her website, everything we’ve ever seen, studied, heard, wished, read, or thought has been permanently captured by the mind. This idea animates the album. During the recording, she allowed songs, lyrics, music and themes to develop spontaneously from her imagination and experience. One can definitely hear this multiplicity of influences. Continue reading →

Confronting racism through music

Not to racism imageFor at least half a century artists have used popular music as a way to confront racism, America’s original sin. Emerging in tandem with the civil rights movement in the 60s, serious social commentary became widely popular, taking a cue from the long history of worker protest music. Of course, there were sporadic efforts to tackle racism before then, like the unforgettable “Strange Fruit” written by Abel Meeropol and first recorded by Billie Holliday in 1939. But such efforts were not widespread. Sadly, the need to express the pain of racism through music is just as strong today as it ever was. I’ve listed below some of the most powerful songs about racism, some well-known and some lesser known. If you have suggestions to add to the list, let me know. Continue reading →

Four distinctive ways to honor Joni Mitchell

Photo of Joni MitchellPlenty of artists claim to be influenced by Joni Mitchell, or to sound like her. But finding a thread that translates into something tangible can be hard. Instead, I decided to present a few of the more interesting approaches. These are truly creative endeavors. They stand out for their profound artistry and their tangible love for Joni’s music. Whether through reinventing specific songs or capturing the spirit of her style, these four albums offer first rate experiences. Each album honors Joni in a different way. So I invite you to immerse yourself in these four distinctive ways to honor Joni Mitchell. Continue reading →