Mezmerizing doesn't really do justice to the melodies and rhythms that flowed through the Sheslow Auditorium as Esperanza Spalding treated the audience to her unique style of jazz on Saturday evening in Des Moines. The ultra talented music prodigy kicked off her tour that night with music from her latest album, Chamber Music Society.
Esperanza effortlessly fuses hip hop, blues and other genres into her music, which also has twinges of classical instrumentals she grew up admiring.After watching classical cellist Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, at the age of four, she knew her life was forever changed.
“That was when I realized that I wanted to do something musical,” she says. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit.”
Growing up in rough part of Portland, OR, the 25-year-old turned to music as a way to experience more in life. Her Latina, Native and African American roots influenced her musical styles and gave her the advantage of being able to compose music in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
By age 20 she was teaching music at Berklee College of Music and building a following of fans. In 2008, her self titled debut album, Esperanza went straight to the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart and made her a national name in music.
Her performance on Saturday at Drake University was a mix of songs that made her famous, plus new ones from her latest album that fuses folk and classical music with beats from Brazil, Africa and the US. The album also includes collaborations from other instrumental artists and vocalists but for this show, Esperanza sparkled too bright and her voice and talents were definitely the stars of the show.
If you ever have a chance to experience this incredible musician in person, don't pass it up. Des Moines was lucky to get a spot on this extraordinary Latina's world tour and if you missed it, pick up one of her albums and turn up the bass.