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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:

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