Venus Sings by Reza Rites


June 2015

Risk-Taking, Art-Making and Bringing the Funk: A VS Podcast and Review of Esperanza Spalding’s ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’

Click on the video or here to watch/listen to my newest podcast on Vimeo.

Risk-Taking, Art-Making and Bringing the Funk: A Venus Sings Podcast and Review of Esperanza Spalding’s ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’

by Reza Corinne Clifton

BOSTON, MA – In 2009, I trekked alone to Jazzaldia, one of the biggest jazz festivals held annually in Europe. The concerts that make up this melodic gathering happen in San Sebastian, a city in northern Spain also known as Donostiako for those who speak Basque. As I noted and remarked back then, “It is a place with mountains, rivers, coves, sand-surrounded bay waters, handsomely aged facades and edifices, city-side ports, cobblestone streets, and so much more.”

It is also where I first saw Esperanza Spalding perform. Back then I wrote the following review based on her set at Jazzaldia:

PG_9_Esperanza_mmoves_issue3“During her mesmerizing performance, Esperanza Spalding played familiar and signature tunes like Fall In, She Got to You, and I Know U Know from her album “Esperanza,” among other selections, showcasing her distinct skill as a jazz vocalist and sophisticated upright bassist. She also ushered in the return of Plaza de la Trinidad as one of the performance spaces [after several years of renovations that caused a popular stage in the festival to be closed for years]. Off-stage, she talked personally and intimately about her hair – which is styled in a distinct, large afro – and its significance in terms of pride in her heritage and abhorrence of chemicals, and she confessed to participating in impromptu jam sessions. Spalding also performed on a second day alongside saxophonist Joe Lovano and drummer Roy Haynes.”

Fast forward to a little less than 6 years, and I was on my way to once again see (now Grammy award-winning) Spalding do her thing! This time around it was a May 16, 2015 concert she was holding at Paradise Rock Club in Boston as part of her recent (and still touring at the time of the podcast) project called ‘Emily’s D+Evolution.’ And I was with artist Tamara Diaz, so I had someone with whom to reflect, share and compare notes.

Don’t necessarily have time to watch the full podcast? Click on the Soundcloud link above to listen to part I.

What did Diaz and I think? Take a listen to this #musicmovesreza / #venussings podcast to hear the report we shared on Sonic Watermelons, the online radio show I produce every Tuesday alongside Jose Ramirez and Deejay Kellan.

Click on the Soundcloud link above to listen to part II.

In addition to the concert review presented by Diaz and me, the segment features audio clips dating back to my 2009 “Venus Sings in Spain” interview of Spalding at Jazzaldia, short snippets of selections from Spalding’s Chamber Music Society cd, and a short promotional video by Spalding about her ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’ project.

Click on the Soundcloud link above to listen to part III.

To tune in live to Sonic Watermelons, listen from 7-8 PM every Tuesday here:

To read my Venus Sings in Spain coverage, click here:

To follow Venus Sings and #musicmovesreza updates, bookmark here:


From Providence and NYC to San Sebastian, Spain: A 2015 Venus Sings and Sonic Watermelons Music Festival Guide

(Captured here, from left to right, are Reza Rites / Venus Sings, performer Danay Suarez, and artist Tamara Diaz)

PROVIDENCE, RI – “It’s summertime in the city and the festivals are hot!” That was the theme of the June 16 episode of Sonic Watermelons, the show I produce alongside Jose Ramirez and Deejay Kellan for Brown Student and Community Radio (

After a group discussion about the June 11-14 Providence International Arts Festival, I ran down a short “Venus Sings” list of events I highly recommend. That list is below.

Danay Suarez, featured in the video above, who was a 2014 LAMC artist, is on the line-up for this July’s Afrolatino Festival, a space described as a gathering to “celebrate the contributions that people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean have made to (NYC) and the global culture as a whole.”

Catch Sonic Watermelons every Tuesday from 7-8 PM (EST) on And follow music news and cultural tidbits on,, and @3amblack on FB, TW, and IG.

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