In a poll of disparate genres, this category has traded on name recognition: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock. In no time, it seems, Esperanza Spalding has become one of those names — the serious jazz musician most non-jazz fans know about. She was in and out of Berklee, teaching there almost before she got her degree. The past year has seen her rip up the Newport Jazz Festival main stage (as a member of George Wein’s Newport All Stars) and a side stage with her own band. Meanwhile, she released her impressive major-label debut, Esperanza (Heads Up), toured in Joe Lovano’s band and performed on his Folk Art (Blue Note), showed up in magazine fashion ads, and played the Obama White House. She also happens to be a massively talented bassist, a beguiling singer, and a bandleader with mega-watt charm.
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