Esperanza Spalding Feature in Newsweek

Esperanza Spalding! I have made my admiration for this beautiful, talented lady a recurrent theme here on thejazzmonger blog. Now, I am pleased to report that she is the subject of an excellent article in Newsweek and it’s affiliate The Daily Beast.

Abigail Pesta’s piece begins, as most Spalding features do, with the singular nature of her talent and intelligence:

 As a 5-year-old, she began playing in a community band; by the time she was 15, she was the concertmaster for an Oregon youth orchestra, with a scholarship to a private arts high school. At 20, she graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Pesta doesn’t mention it, but Spalding was, by age 19, not only a student at Berklee but also on the faculty.

Esperanza Spalding at Oscars

Jazz Talent Esperanza Spalding

The hard-working credential is well-earned, many times over. Beginning in childhood, she learned to play the piano, clarinet and oboe before discovering the stand-up bass in high school. When asked why she now plays bass, almost exclusively, Esperanza says that the instrument “just resonates” with her.

Pesta goes on to highlight the difficult circumstances in which Spalding lived as a child. She grew up in the King neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Esperanza has described it as “a ghetto” and “pretty scary.” She and her brother were raised by her mother as a single parent. And yet, Pesta tells us:

She downplays her gritty childhood. Growing up poor isn’t a “special” story, she says, but an American one. “Where I’m from is a really mild example. I mean, I’m sure my whole life we were under the poverty line, you know, but I still felt rich. I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”

Listen to that last part again, if you will indulge me, because it is the point of today’s visit to the keyboard:

“I had a rich upbringing, rich in the sense of a lot of love, a lot of education, nature, music and art, and laughing.” She adds, “It’s not just about the income you make.”

Esperanza Spalding

Jazz Around the World

Recently, we have been curious about the readership, especially since thejazzmonger blog went through a protracted period of idleness last year. So, I checked into our usage statistics a little bit. We found some surprises… some very pleasant surprises. First, we have been averaging around 65 hits per day, recently, with the high being 82 hits and the low being 50. So the traffic has been pretty steady. That’s good, I think.

Kudos are due to the great folks at WordPress for providing a terrific vehicle to let one speak to the whole wide world. If you have ever given any thought to expressing yourself in blog form, I encourage you to check out the great package of services and assistance  provided there.

But, what really surprised us was where the visitors are logging in from. Naturally, most connections originate in the United States, with the United Kingdom and India (both predominantly English-speaking countries and very heavily wired-in) coming in second and third. It was the overall distribution that was a revelation. Over the last seven days, we have logged visitors from thirty-eight (38) different countries.  And I am quite stoked about that.

Any disappointments? Yes, a couple. We would really love to be picked up more in Japan. The Japanese are well-recognized as sincere fans and aficionados of good Jazz. One fine exampleof this is the excellent site Jazz in Japan, edited by Michael Pronko.  Not only does he thoroughly cover the Jazz scene in Japan, but he writes with passion and talent on some surprisingly (for me) provocative subjects, such as Jazz and ZenThis guy has stretched my horizons considerably. Maybe our problem, here, is that thejazzmonger just doesn’t measure up to this kind of material. Michael gives us something to shoot at.

And the Japanese are not just fans. Many important contributors to the genre are from Japan. A case in point is one of my favorires, Gota Yashiki, about whom thejazzmonger wrote lovingly some time ago (Cf: http://wp.me/ppvVJ-al).  thejazzmonger needs to put in some serious thought on how we might appeal to this sophisticated audience, in the future.

Another disappointment is the low showing from Switzerland. I have some family, and a couple of good friends in Switzerland. We bagged one hit for the week. C’mon family!

We draw some encouragement, though, from what we think are pretty good numbers in some other places. Fifty-three hits from India and Pakistan, combined. Twenty from Greece! The Greeks have plenty going on, right now, so we are gratified that a few of them had time to drop by. One hit from the Russian Federation, probably Vladimir Putin, unwinding from another election rout.

WE invite any, and all, visitors to come back often, comment as you see fit and, please, drop us a note via the “Contact Us” link, introduce yourself and let us know where you sign in from.

Here is the chart

Jazz Guitarist Norman Brown

Norman Brown is another of the newer talents I like to spend a little time with. Quick, smooth and precise, Norman is easy to listen to while reading, driving, cooking, partying, a whole range of activities. Brown does all of his own arrangements and creates some great combinations of talent and instruments.

Guitarist Norman Brown

Guitarist Norman Brown

His 2008 album After the Storm was Jazz Album of the Year on at least two charts. It is one of my favorites and it features a great version of  That’s the Way Loves Goes, a composition by James Harris, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson.

Another great track on this CD is Norman’s shift to the acoustic guitar. Titled  Acoustic Time, this is a soft, lovely tune:

Brown is probably best recognized for his version of Ernie Isely’s  For the Love of You, which gets tons of play on all smooth jazz radio stations and live streams.

Speaking of live jazz streaming, Norman Brown (like the jazz radio pioneer Dave Koz) broadcasts a great show every weekend on The Smooth Jazz Network.  The link is http://smoothjazznetwork.com

I also really enjoy Norman’s Just Between Us CD.

thejazzmonger

http://thejazzmonger.wordpress.com

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