2010 Best New Artist Grammy winner, bass virtuoso and CMJ fave Esperanza Spalding will release Radio Music Society on March 20 via Heads Up International. Conceived as a stylistic companion piece to her best-selling 2010 record, Chamber Music Society, the new album finds the Portland-born multi-instrumentalist using her Berklee-honed jazz and composition skills to explore traditional pop music forms.
Many of the new songs were developed around the same period as the more classically inclined Chamber, with Spalding initially thinking of releasing both albums together. “Originally I thought it would be fun to release a double album,” she explains in a press release. “One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize as ‘pop songs.’”
To realize this nuanced vision Spalding brought in an eclectic group of collaborators: tenor saxophone giant Joe Lovano; jazz legends Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart; guitar heroes Jef Lee Johnson and Lionel Loueke; even hip-hop innovator Q-Tip, who performs on and co-produced two tracks.
If that varied cast sounds frenzied and chaotic to you, like a broken radio, that’s part of Spalding’s design. “Everyone has the experience of turning on a car radio,” Spalding says in the press release. “Mindlessly flipping through the dial and suddenly a fragment grabs you and you’re totally digging it. I wanted to capture that moment when the music just sinks in. It’s about the power of song and how at the least it can save the day.”
And, yet, despite exploring pop song structures, for some reason, Spalding’s new album does not feature a collaboration with her arch-nemesis, Justin Bieber. Maybe next year, Biebs.