The Esperanza Spalding Quartet plays at Birch North Park Theatre on September 13.

I wanted to hire this kid for a jazz festival in Indiana in the mid ’90s. The committee looked at me like I was nuts. I had just passed around his bio sheet. All they could seem to get from the page was that he was 14. Yeah, so? I thought to myself. Mozart wrote music when he was five.

I told the committee I could get a great rate. Of course, we’d have to fly in his mom, too. The bottom line won on paper, and the audience won that summer in Indiana. The kid grew up, is still growing up, and is still an amazing player and composer. He’s now a two-time Grammy nominee, festival headliner, and jazz-chart topper.

If you’re not hip to Taylor Eigsti, get there. But, this isn’t about him. It’s about…well, I’m not sure. Is it about jazz and a new generation? Is it about this one girl in particular who is waking up a whole new audience to the sound of jazz?

I got the buzz early on Esperanza Spalding’s 2008 release Esperanza because that’s what we jazz-radio people do. Then, I got the disc. Call me shallow, but I love how freakin’ cute this woman is! But…what about the chops? Put the CD in and there they were. Those chops. The bass-line chops. The vocal chops. The songwriting and arranging chops. It’s all there. And it’s all fresh. Even the classics, like “Body and Soul,” beautifully bounced up as “Cuerpo y Alma.”

So, I guess what this is about is simple: If you think jazz is dead, you’re not paying attention. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta keep jazz in your face.

DJ: Claudia Russell

STATION: KSDS, 88.3 FM

SHIFT: 4–6 p.m., Monday–Friday.

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Comments

whyigotahaveid Sept. 10, 2009 @ 10:03 p.m.

i remember when san diego had radio station 92STAR5. they played much jazz among the r&b n soul tracks. i didnt think of it as jazz, i thought it was some cool stuff to chill to. this was back in the late 70s early 80s. it was a sweet blend of young n mature music. that was the the sound track to many a teenage gangbanger back then. remember the KOOL jazz festivals? they were held at the murph to capacity crowds. since the demise of independent black radio or any color independent . we have the same crap on every station. i cant say that about jazz 88 since i havnt really listend to them. but i do know that the jazz on 92star5 was hip , groovy n soulful. unlike the sterile white so called san diego stlye jazz on 98.1 thank GOD for satallite radio.

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Josh Board Sept. 11, 2009 @ 1:25 a.m.

Check out Esparanza. She's amazing. She sings in English, French, and another language. Watching her play stand-up bass as she sings. And she's so beautiful, even with her funky Macy Gray locks.

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David Dodd Sept. 11, 2009 @ 2:51 a.m.

"She sings in English, French, and another language."

That's Spanish, Josh (she also speaks some Portugese, I wasn't aware she spoke French but I'm not surprised). She was raised by a Cuban nanny. And her mother is part hispanic. And I agree, she's very good.

Nathan East is probably quite proud of her.

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Josh Board Sept. 12, 2009 @ 2:10 a.m.

Why? What did Nathan (perhaps the most talented musician to come out of San Diego) have to do with her? I didn't know they had a connection.

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David Dodd Sept. 12, 2009 @ 3 a.m.

They are both amazing bassists and both are capable of crossing over multiple music genres. Jazz, rock, Latin, and so on. East is probably my favorite bassist. There is no doubt that he knows of her and no doubt that she was inspired by him. If you listen to her style and his, there is much similarity at times.

And both excel on the electric stand-up. Their connection might be Sergio Mendez. I'd link it but I haven't come up with anything, other than East collaborating with him and Spalding being influenced by his sound.

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David Dodd Sept. 12, 2009 @ 3:13 a.m.

Speaking of Nathan East, here is an amazing version of "Can't Find My Way Home" live with Clapton and Knopfler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Bm2xvuzCA

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Josh Board Sept. 12, 2009 @ 11:15 a.m.

I don't have speakers on my computer, so I can't hear this.

I love that Blind Faith song, though. One of the best songs of all-time.

It's used to close the underrated Kevin Costner movie "Fandango", a must see.

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antigeekess Sept. 12, 2009 @ 6:13 p.m.

Gringo posted:

"Speaking of Nathan East, here is an amazing version of "Can't Find My Way Home" live with Clapton and Knopfler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Bm2xvuz..."

I like that a LOT. I see some other vids with Clapton & Knopfler. Gonna have to give those a look. They're gooooood together.

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David Dodd Sept. 12, 2009 @ 6:54 p.m.

I've always held a great deal of admiration for both, and obviously, they do go well together. Clapton is really good as a front guitarist, but maybe even better just behind Knopfler's lead.

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antigeekess Sept. 12, 2009 @ 8:51 p.m.

Gringo, are you a guitar fan in general?

Don't even get me started. I love the acoustic players best, myself. My personal favorite? The great Andy McKee:

If you like him there, see some of his harp guitar vids, such as "Into the Ocean."

Heck, just check out EVERYBODY on this entire channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/rpoland

They're all superb. And if you run out, I gots even more guys that 'should' be signed with CandyRat. :)

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David Dodd Sept. 12, 2009 @ 10:23 p.m.

AG: I am. Six (or twelve) string guitar is one instrument that never came easy for me, my stubby fingers, short and not adept at such intricate shenanigans have much respect for those who have successfully conquered the cat gut.

McKee's unorthodox style is probably the only way I could ever learn the guitar, and, you know, who teaches THAT?

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antigeekess Sept. 12, 2009 @ 10:59 p.m.

Refried weaseled:

"AG: I am. Six (or twelve) string guitar is one instrument that never came easy for me, my stubby fingers, short and not adept at such intricate shenanigans have much respect for those who have successfully conquered the cat gut."

Aw, stubby little pickle-fingers won't let you play, huh? Um, then how do you explain THIS guy? (Perhaps you've heard of him.) :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwL-sSUWMGQ

"McKee's unorthodox style is probably the only way I could ever learn the guitar, and, you know, who teaches THAT?"

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071230095301AAn9S46

Always an answer. Always. ;)

These folks might be able to assist:

http://www.sdguitarsociety.com

And I think I'm gonna order this:

http://www.acousticguitar.com/article/login/login.aspx?articleid=22224&IssueNo=191&coverdate=November%202008

Maybe it'll give me the push I need to pick up mine & finally do something with it besides learn to play Kumbayah (badly).

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