Still “as surprised as you can be” by her Best New Artist win at this year’s Grammy Awards, Esperanza Spalding has already scoped out her next two album projects — even as she tours to promote 2010’s “Chamber Music Society.”
Spalding tells Billboard.com that she’ll hit the studio during May to record “Radio Music Society,” a “more upbeat and more sort of energetic” set that was conceived at the same time as “Chamber Music Society.” “Originally I planned to release a double record, but that didn’t work. The two (approaches) really couldn’t be reconciled,” Spalding explains. “So it became two different records. I just decided I wanted to do ‘Chamber Music’ first and then focus on ‘Radio Music.’ ”
Spalding says she’s “really excited” to get cracking on “Radio Music,” which will combine her original compositions with covers of songs by the Beach Boys and Wayne Shorter — although she doesn’t want to identify those yet, nor is she naming the musicians who will be playing on the album because “we haven’t signed anything.” After “Radio Music Society,” Spalding intends to collaborate on an album with Milton Nascimento, the Brazilian guitarist with whom she’s recently “gotten closer to.”
“Oh, I love him. He’s phenomenal. He’s a beautiful human being,” says Spalding, who has also recorded recent collaborations with Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington and Nicholas Payton. “It’s really been a pleasure to get to know him. He’s one of those people who are as good-hearted and wonderful in person as what you get from their work.”
Before she starts working on “Radio Music Society,” Spalding is playing “Chamber Music Society” shows in the U.S. and Europe, including the Cully Jazz Festival on March 30 in Switzerland. Meanwhile, she’s coming to grips with her Best New Artist title, having surprised the world by beating out Justin Bieber (she won’t comment about his fans hacking her Wikipedia page) and Drake, among others.
“My daily life hasn’t changed that much,” Spalding says. “I got some really nice e-mails from some people I really admire — Jack DeJohnette and Pat Metheny and Paul Simon and Joe Lovano. Realistically it doesn’t change very much of what I have to do, my work and my job. The last couple years I sort of had planned out. They were pretty full…and none of that’s really going to change.”
She does, however, feel like a “new” artist in her field, even if she’s already released three albums.
“It’s appropriate for jazz,” Spalding explains. “It takes decades and decades and decades to really become great at this craft, and I’ve only been doing it for about a decade. So I would consider myself a new artist for all intents and purposes. I’m new to jazz and I’m new to arranging and writing and lyric-writing. All of it is new, and I intend to do it ’til the day I can’t breathe anymore. So right now, at 26, it’s appropriate. I am a new artist.”