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“The trio has many weapons but their most devastating is lead vocalist Esperanza Spalding, who plucks a mean double bass. Sonically, it’s about the equivalent of a spy film set in Trinidad, with a healthy, tempering dose of style and cool. All told Happy You Near is an estimable debut.
The surprise winner of the Best New Artist Grammy-- beating out a hopeful Justin Bieber in 2011--was jazz sensation Esperanza Spalding. In retrospect it’s little surprise: she is not only an ambassador for Jazz but for musicians irrespective of genre. She has become an icon, gracing magazine covers (Bass Player, New York Times Magazine, Buzz) appearing in fashion campaigns (Banana Republic),performing at the 2012 Academy Awards Ceremony, appearing on talk shows (The Daily Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Later with Jools Holland, etc.), and the subject of in-depth profile pieces (NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker and many more).
￼Ten years after she recorded Happy You Near with Christian Cochran and Ben Workman, Spalding released her highly anticipated album Radio Music Society as as followup to her Billboard #1 Biggest Selling Contemporary Jazz release Chamber Music Society. If fans were looking for a "crossover" record with her latest, then they might find themselves better served with this well-aged collection.
The songs themselves defy genre--they are not jazz, not alternative, not indie--but are richly hybridized without veering into “fusion” tropes. You’ll find no 3 minute solos or scat singing here. Instead, Happy You Near is brimming with tight and surprising arrangements that you can tap your toe to and sing along with.
Out of print in physical format for several years now, this studio album produced by Adam Selzer (The Decemberists, M Ward, Laura Gibson, Jolie Holland) will appeal both to those who are familiar with Spalding’s jazz repertoire as well as those who can't quite step to it.
The Song Formerly Known as What We Used To Call It 4:14
Due to Lamplooking 3:23
Go Figure, Another Warm Day in Paradise 4:26
Melatonin Head 5:00
Money Penny 3:12
Most Red Wagons Aren't Very Long 2:51
Seven Dead Kids (For Eric) 4:20
Pants With His Halfway Down 3:56
Evil Petting Zoo 2:18