In an undeniably sophisticated demeanor, Esperanza Spalding made a dramatic entrance minus one famous cello and plus one amazing head of hair. She coolly clicked off her shoes, slowly unbuttoned her jacket, and calmly took a seat in the living room chair positioned in front of a single spotlight at Campbell Hall.
I was left speechless from that moment until the finale of Esperanza Spalding’s beyond brilliant performance on February 28, and I wasn’t the only one.
“I thought it was amazing – out right amazing. It was perfect,” said UC Santa Barbara second year undeclared major Vincent Loris.
It was apparent from the beginning why the event completely sold out for the twenty-six year old child prodigy turned Grammy winner. Spalding’s memorable appearance in Santa Barbara took place just days after beating out Justin Bieber to win the well-deserved award for Best New Artist at this year’s annual award show, making her the first jazz musician in the category to ever do so.
When the curtains drew open, three violinists, one drummer, one pianist and one female backup vocalist were revealed. Immediately, talent radiated from all corners of the stage. My ears were engulfed as they executed powerful songs off the album Chamber Music Society. The songs are a combination of jazz, folk, world music and neo-soul, and each instrument seemed to compliment every movement of the leading woman perfectly
Spalding is without a doubt soulful. The musician’s stage presence is a performance in and of itself. Not a single audience member could have pulled their eyes away if they tried as she passionately played the large bass that nearly doubled her width, incorporating nontraditional methods of playing the instrument. At one point, Spalding stopped plucking and started tapping. She propped the cello against a chair and beat the sides as if it were a bongo, all the while sensually moving her body and synchronizing her bare feet to the beat.
“I don’t even know what was the best part – all of it,” said UCSB fourth year Sociology major Spencer Sussman. “All of the different baselines with the melodic vocals – everything was in perfect harmony with the base.”
Spalding neared the end of her performance with the song, “That’s All,” before the curtains closed on her band mates. All was black while the audience stood cheering and applauding for a good five-minute ovation.
After making the same dramatic exit (similar to her entrance) by redressing in the ‘living room’, taking a seat and turning off the lamp, the crowd was left awed. People started shuffling out as the house lights came on, but excitedly sprinted back to their seats for a very unexpected encore.
“Esperanza Spalding was amazing. The concert was really incredible and very different from her album in a great way,” said UCSB second year Music major Kevin Harvey.