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CD Review: Esperanza Spalding

Radio Music Society (Heads Up/Concord)


Esperanza Spalding came out of seemingly nowhere to win the Best New Artist Grammy last year over higher profile acts like Drake and Mumford & Sons. Her 2010 album Chamber Music Society featured a mix of springy acoustic jazz and string-guided ballads. Her fourth LP isn't so much a follow-up as it is a sequel — the second part of the journey she started on her breakthrough record. But Radio Music Society is more adventurous than its predecessor, sprinkled with hip-hop, Latin pop, and R&B. The 27-year-old singer and songwriter still shows off her exemplary upright-bass skills, but this time it's mostly about breaking down expectations. From "Radio Song"'s summer breeze to the supple "Black Gold," Radio Music Society is an ambitious — if a bit overlong — project by an artist using traditional jazz as a springboard to the future. — Michael Gallucci

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