The best thing to come out of my love for Odd Future wasn’t a rapper, it wasn’t a show, it wasn’t skateboarding, and it wasn’t hilarious interviews. It was a teenage jazz band from Canada. BADBADNOTGOOD has me absolutely captivated. I first discovered them through a jam session they did with Tyler, the Creator, and haven’t stopped listening since (I’ll post the Tyler, the Creator, and Goblin sessions on a new post). They’re a jazz group that met at Humbler College, and have since made a name for themselves jamming on hip-hop music. Their attitude is that jazz was amazing because it was so new when it came out, and jazz standards are only still played because that is what the older generations know, but younger generations don’t care about jazz standards as much, so how do you attract younger generations? Replace jazz standards with the hip-hop hits of today, songs that teenagers all know, and reinterpret those songs. Turn hip-hop into the new standard, not to recreate, but to reinterpret. Keyboardist Tavares put it best in an interview with Exclaim, “For me, the reason you can play jazz standards is because old people know those melodies. They can hear “Stella By Starlight” on Jazz FM and know how it goes. So if you play a hip-hop song that people know, they can hear your version and appreciate what’s happening. A young person doesn’t give a fuck how you play “Stella By Starlight.”
Stream their debut album, BBNG, through Bandcamp below, or download it on mediafire here, or both…
I was admittedly one of the people who had no idea who Esperanza Spalding was before the Grammy Awards, but now that I do, I’m overjoyed to be graced with her music with each passing note. She discovered upright bass at 15, and described the feeling as waking up one morning and realizing you are in love with a co-worker. According to Wikipedia, at 16, after dropping out of high school, she completed her GED and was accepted into Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. Impressive?
She is now a touring and studio musician, as well as the first jazz artist to ever win a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. She was hand-picked by President Barack Obama to play at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and has an album slated for release in 2011 which aims to bring jazz session musicians to the mainstream, and spotlight jazz musicians other then herself. Spalding rejects the self-oversexualization of many female musicians today, and believes female artists should find fame through their talents and not their sex appeal.
A modest artist, considered a prodigy by some, although she herself denies the label and has said the people she plays with on a regular basis, artists who have not achieved the same level of fame as her are the real prodigies. Her small, feminine voice drifts softly over her jazz compositions, splashed with upbeat Brazilian flavor, catchy grooves, and a bit more vamping then is usual for jazz pieces. While a traditionalist may point out her use of vamping and more typical song structures as a sign of her lack of dedication to true jazz, I see it as her just aggregating all the things she loves about music, and creating something new, and mind blowing with it.
Upright Bassist, singer, composer, producer, faculty member at Berklee, Grammy winner, all at the age of 24. She has accomplished so much at song a young age it is incredible. Given the point she is at now at such a young age, Esperanza Spalding has a unique opportunity to leave a significant and lasting imprint on music, as a respected member of the music community, a recognized significant talent and force in the recording industry. Its quite possible that the Grammys were as on point as they possibly could’ve been when they awarded her Best New Artist (despite the fact that her debut album Junjo was released in 2006 — the album is credited to Spalding, but she describes it as more of a collaboration with two other jazz session musicians then a solo effort).
Precious – Esperanza Spalding
I Know You Know – Esperanza Spalding
She Got To You (Live on Jimmy Kimmel) – Esperanza Spalding