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

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Sky Cries Mary - Here and Now - Live 2005 – For those of you familiar with this Seattle band, you will remember that they disbanded after their 1999 release Seeds to pursue different musical ideas. For example, their female vocalist Anisa...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues