Esperanza Spalding says she has “a big project in mind” for her follow-up to 2012’s Grammy Award-winning “Radio Music Society.” But don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
“It’s evolving outside of any timeline, free of any timeline,” Spalding — whose three career Grammys include a Best New Artist win in 2011 — tells Billboard. “Radio Music Society,” she adds, “was such a big project, it’s still got a lot of life in it. I don’t think it’s been fully unpackaged yet. I’ve toured with a live band, but there’s a whole video aspect of it and I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of all the possibilities of packaging that are part of that project. So if anything I really want to focus on that over the next few months before I start doing anything because I’m proud of it and it was a big undertaking. There’s still more to be discovered and cooked up out of that project before I wander on to the next thing.”
Spalding does have another “next thing” in progress — a collaboration with Brazilian great Milton Nascimento, although that’s marching to the beat of its own drummer, too. “That’s ongoing,” says Spalding. “We’re writing. I’m going to see him in the winter in Brazil, so that’s just an inevitable collaboration that at this point is ongoing. We’re cooking it.”
Spalding has also taken part in performances of Wayne Shorter’s symphonic piece “Gaia,” the last of which takes place Nov. 1 in Detroit.
“It’s an amazing piece of work,” says Spalding, who wrote the libretto. “It’s just a phenomenal experience to sit through. I’m so happy Wayne is being supported and these symphonies recognize him and are willing to give him the platform to share this incredible work.”
She’s also been playing standards with fellow jazz musicians Geri Allen and Terri Lynne Carrington, which should yield a recording in the near future.
“We did a week at the Vanguard (in New York) and recorded a few nights, and it came out amazing,” Spalding says. “There’s some songs we did that I guess you wouldn’t necessarily think right away of being in the American songbook, but to us it’s become standards. The joy, I think, of doing ‘standards’ is to show off our arranging and our sound as an ensemble. That’s much more distinctively heard when we’re playing a tune that’s recognized. There’s a real special interaction between the three of us. I admire both of them terribly and love their playing so much; to stand between them and dig off what they’re doing and learn from what they’re doing is the greatest experience.”