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Once again I've been so busy I'm a bit late in reporting on all the fabulous music in town. Last Friday I saw Esperanza Spalding and the brilliant Brazilian composer, guitarist, and singer Guinga, as part of her SF Jazz four night residency. In truth, I should have seen all four, radically different groups, but back when I purchased the season tickets, the individual nights and musicians were TBA. Just turning 30, Spalding is a genius, and a leading light in new music. Comfortable in everything from straight ahead to funk environments, I'm fond of saying that she sings like Betty Carter, and plays like Ron Carter. And yet it took a duet setting with Guinga of his brilliant bossa tunes to make me realize just how flexible, and versatile, she is. Guinga first surfaced in the late 60's in Brazil, and was championed for many years by Ivan Lins. Like our own Willie Nelson, he was known primarily as a composer. With George Clooney good looks, the guitar mastery of Baden Powell, and the seductive voice of Dori Caymmi, it is a wonder he is not more famous. Perhaps his songs are too complex for mass market; they are more advanced, and even subtle, than Jobim's. Esperanza adores him, and the biggest surprise was her complete mastery of Portuguese! All combinations of guitar, acoustic bass, electric bass, guitar and vocals were explored - two consumate artists sitting side by side making magic. Esperanza's ability to become completely one with yet a different kind of music, and language was truly inspirational.
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