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Erykah & Esperanza: Grasping and Reaching for That Certain Pop Feeling

J.D. Swerzenski
Contributing Writer
j.d.swerzenski[at]trinity.edu

I had the good fortune this past weekend to catch both Esperanza Spalding and Erykah Badu live. Now the circumstances of these two shows—location, audience, vibe—were worlds apart; however their chronological proximity to each other (and a story idea planted by Nextbop editor ADH) got me connecting the two in a way I had never considered. I’ll spare you the obligatory biography of both artists, as I’m pretty sure both are known quantities around these parts (and if not, I’m pretty sure there are internets for that sort of thing). But clearly Erykah and Esperanza came up in vastly different ways: Badu through the neo-soul movement of the mid-90s, Spalding through the jazz world towards the later half of the 2000s.

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For Your Consideration: Esperanza Spalding's 'Radio Music Society'

J.D. Swerzenski
Contributing Writer
j.d.swerzenski[at]trinity.edu

A couple of weeks back I wrote up a capsule review for the San Antonio Current--the prototypical alternative weekly in town –on Esperanza Spalding’s latest record Radio Music Society. You take the 90 seconds it takes to read here.

I reference this to set-up a fairly bizarre situation that played out shortly before I submitted the piece. I was working on some of the finishing touches via laptop during the Spring Fund Drive for our jazz station here in San Antonio, KRTU 91.7FM. In the large studio we use as Fund Drive HQ, affectionately (though not too cleverly) dubbed “Pledge Central,” we have a half dozen phones, fold-up chairs and enough catered grub for us to last the week. And of course, roughly 8-10 phone volunteers, who on this particular Tuesday afternoon, were milling around the studio looking for something to do while the phones weren’t ringing.