May 23, 2024

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Video: Esperanza Spalding has established herself as one of today’s major musical conceptualists

Over the course of five studio albums, bassist Esperanza Spalding has established herself as one of today’s major musical conceptualists.

Her funky yet cerebral 2016 album, Emily’s D + Evolution (Concord), touched on themes of imagination and creativity through the invocation of Spalding’s alter-ego and creative avatar, Emily. With its incisive lyrics and bracing fusion of genres, it was among the year’s best concept albums.

For her new work, Exposure, Spalding is displaying her creative energy in a unique way, crafting a complete album in 77 hours, with every second of the recording session live-streamed on Facebook Live.

Fans will bear witness to every moment of Spalding’s recording process, including the breaks she takes to sleep in the studio. A monitor will also show Spalding’s live audience comments, essentially allowing viewers to have input into the production of the album. After Exposure has been created and recorded it will be available on limited-edition CD and vinyl via Concord Records.

Spalding has said that only 7,777 copies of Exposure will be made, so it is a “first come, first served” project. Fans can place pre-orders now. Other information, including a pre-order link.

Spalding has invited other musicians and special guests to appear on the album, but those artists have yet to be announced.

Spalding anticipates that the unique “live” element of the album will ramp up the intensity of the recording session, imbuing the proceedings with a fresh sense of purpose and intent. “I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy,” Spalding said in a press statement. “Having such limited time to write and record 10 songs will also force us to rely on improvisation and first instinct. Not allowing us time to judge, second guess, question or alter the initial hits of inspiration that drive the creation of each song. That means that the audience will get a record of the most potent, charged, fresh-from-the ethers-compositional, musical and lyrical content.”

Since the release of Emily’s D+Evolution, she debuted Virgin Writes, a lyrical, Butoh staging of the ancient Greek mythological story of Iphigenia (in collaboration with Yuka C. Honda and Vangeline). Her Esperanza Spalding Selects display at the Cooper Hewitt Museum is on exhibit now through January 2018.

In the spring of 2018, Spalding will begin a new role as professor of practice in the Music Department of Harvard University, where she will teach a course that crosses musical styles and genres. She joins flutist Claire Chase as recent additions to the faculty.

Spalding also recently performed at Carnegie Hall with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and NY02, a Carnegie Hall program for instrumentalists ages 14 to 17. She performed at the alternative Inauguration Peace Ball in January in Washington, D.C., and is currently touring with Andrew Bird.

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