Exposé Online banner

Esperanza Spalding — Emily's D+Evolution
(Concorde CRE3914602, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-12-05

Emily's D+Evolution Cover art

With elements of classic 70s funk, flighty vocal jazz, and sheer instrumental audacity, Emily’s D+Evolution shows Esperanza Spalding coming into her own as an artist to be reckoned with. On “Good Lava” or “Funk the Fear” you get something like Funkadelic (by way of Red Hot Chili Peppers) with a jazzy female vocal; with “Unconditional Love” or “Earth to Heaven” it’s reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s jazzy work; “Ebony and Ivy” features a rapid-fire unison vocal chant and some really off-kilter riffs; “Farewell Dolly” could pass for a Hugh Hopper / Annette Peacock duet. Throughout, Spalding’s outstanding bass work and stunning voice are presented in imaginative arrangements full of quirky backing vocals, unexpected twists, sophisticated chords, and tricky melodies. For this time out, she sticks with electric bass, leaving her upright in the closet, and goes for an energetic set punctuated by floating, jazzy interludes. Her style of funk is based on melodic rhythmic lines rather than popping and slapping, which should make some bass guitar purists happy. Justin Tyson and Karriem Riggins handle the drums on a per-track basis, with overlap on the frenetic cover of Anthony Newley’s “I Want It Now” which finishes out the album proper (the album has been released in a number of versions with varying bonus tracks). Matthew Stevens shines on guitar, handling funky rhythm parts as well as edgy solos, his lines coordinated with Spalding’s bass for maximum impact. Emily’s D+Evolution has enough in the way of chops and inventiveness to appeal to lovers of electric jazz and fusion, and her voice is good enough that even those who favor instrumental music in the style should be impressed. One of the bonus tracks on many of the versions deserves a special mention. The “Alternate Version” of “Unconditional Love” takes the pleasant ballad in a totally unexpected direction, breaking into a wild jam after five and a half minutes, with a monstrous bass part from Spalding and Stevens’ guitar totally freaking out for nearly four minutes, then a brief, calming reprise of the vocal part. This is the real stuff, and no doubt a hint at how this material would be presented live.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Esperanza Spalding

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Banda Elástica - Los Awakates de Nepantla – I haven't much music coming from across the border recently. However, we are very lucky that Banda Elástica managed to record their third album before the peso crashed. Los Awakates...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues