It’s the kind of upset that we who chronicle music live for: at this year’s Grammy Awards, when she nabbed the trophy for Best New Artist (leaving other nominees like Justin Bieber in the dust), Esperanza Spalding provoked a nationwide question: Who?
Except, that is, among jazz lovers, who found no small amount of irony in the Academy anointing an artist as a newcomer on the strength of her eighth album. Her 2008 record Esperanza spent 70 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. The bassist-singer played for President Obama in Oslo when he picked up his Nobel Prize.
Still, the award shone a light on a formidable talent who found her calling at age 4, after watching Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood." Now, at just 26 years old, she has critics falling over each other to declare her the future of jazz.
Spalding plays The Town Hall on Saturday with her band the Chamber Music Society (also the title of the aforementioned Grammy-winning album). Tickets start at $40 and, at this writing, are still available via bowerypresents.com.
Esperanza Spalding and the Chamber Music Society, Saturday, May 21, doors 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. at The Town Hall, 123 West 43 St.; 212-997-1003. More information and tickets at bowerypresents.com.