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Esperanza Spalding at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR

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Esperanza Spalding at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR

Esperanza Spalding at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR… Let me start by saying that I believe that Esperanza Spalding is the bright beacon of pure and unadulterated light that shines the message of jazz on the people of the world and lets them see that which might have been otherwise been missed! If you don’t read another line of this review, take my advice, discover Esperanza for yourself!

At the very young age of 27, Esperanza has had an amazing musical career that started right here in Portland Oregon.  Her most recent CD release “Radio Music Society”, (The sister CD to Grammy winning “Chamber Music Society”) is just part of the motivation behind her performance at the Crystal Ballroom as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival this past April 25th. I think that the other part has a lot to do with returning home to her roots and friends.

Radio Music Society Official Trailer

Let’s talk a little about the venue for a moment. The Crystal Ballroom was originally built as Cotillion Hall in 1914 and has been the venue for many notable musical acts throughout history. McMenamin’s invested $4 million dollars and re-opened this facility in 1997. Presently this unique and very eclectic location can seat around 950 people or pack in about 2000 souls if standing. The latter configuration was chosen for this concert to better accommodate as many of Esperanza’s fans as possible at the expense of our aching feet. Unfortunately, the audience attrition as the show progressed was a result of the physical limitations of the venue rather than the performance itself.

At Esperanza’s invitation, local jazz icon Thara Memory’s band opened the evening. This band is comprised of a blend of some students from Memory’s American Music Program with a few of Portland’s Jazz veterans. With Thara at the helm, this group did a respectable job performance-wise and inspired young musicians with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The smiles on the faces of these youths were priceless!

When Esperanza took the stage, there was no doubt that we witnessed one of the most amazing musical talents of our time! Her flawless vocals and synchronized bass playing is at a level many can only aspire to. Esperanza’s genuine, kind personality and goodness makes you like her even more. Her commitment to music, humanity and just causes, such as freeing the 27 million slaves on our planet, is exceptional.

Musically, there were many great moments in the show as this more “Pop”/Jazz music is every bit as comfortable to Esperanza as the  “Straight”/ Jazz from her previous works.

Here are links to some of the tunes from “Radio Music Society” including “Cinnamon Tree” which we were able to capture at the concert.

Radio Song…

Black Gold…

City of Roses…

Cinnamon Tree…

Here are a few photo highlights of the evening…

Esperanza Spalding is a major force of nature… She is a powerhouse of jazz, music and of great humanity! I would encourage everyone reading these lines to experience this Bass phenomenon any way they can.

Visit Esperanza’s site for upcoming tour dates,

Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society is available at and at iTunes.


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