Esperanza Spalding’s progression from a Post-Bop prodigy with strong Afro-Latin Jazz chops and an impeccable vocal phrasing to the electric bass-wielding Neo-Soul-Fusion songstress of 2012’s Radio Music Society might have been unexpected, but it was certainly not a fruitless endeavor. For one, her jazz/pop/r&b jams sparkle with energy, purpose, and a musicality perhaps unheard in r&b music since Anita Baker’s 1991 Jazz-Soul opus Compositions. What’s more, as songs like “Black Gold” clearly indicate, Spalding has decided to increase her visibility in the urban music community by tightening the groove and pushing the jazz virtuosity to the background, in support of music that takes equally from Kamaal the Abstract, Baduizm, Heavy Weather, and Milton Nascimento’s Courage. Live, no doubt, the jazz chops resurface, meaning that everybody’s happy.
Wed., Oct. 2, 7 p.m., 2013