Esperanza Spalding: No More Bass?

Esperanza Spalding: 12 Little SpellsEsperanza Spalding has followed up last year’s Exposure with 12 Little Spells, a twelve-song album that focuses on using music as therapy. It came to her in a wash of inspiration while trying to write a single song before “developing the next full thing.”

Each of the songs focuses on a different part of the body with videos and art to accompany them. This is the first of Spalding’s albums in which she doesn’t play bass. In fact, it may be the last for a while. Instead, she leaves the task to Burniss Travis, who also performs with heavyweights like Robert Glasper and Common.

Spalding opened up to interviewer Marcus J. Moore during a Facebook Live stream of “Live Liner notes” on the album. Moore asked the bassist if there would be no more bass for her.

“There’s forever bass. I wrote a lot of bass in this album,” Spalding began. “Let’s put it like this: I don’t want to play that instrument without a certain level of facility and ability, because it feels really burdensome. If I haven’t been putting in those three to four hours a day, it’s like a burdensome process of playing it. It’s like if you were going to dance some contemporary dance and you hadn’t been training for three months, you don’t feel free. It’s physically uncomfortable, and the thing you want to do with the dance, you’re not able to do because your body isn’t responding how you want it to.

That time right now, in the day, I want to use for other things. I love that instrument so much and I love to hear it done well. I don’t want to get up there out of respect of the music… and I don’t feel free playing that way. I need that music to be free. That’s what I need it to be for me. Also [I want] to be free to move in response to what other people are doing.

I feel like it was a really rude awakening to not be able to practice for a couple weeks and go on a gig and being like, “Damn. This is not the kind of bass player I want to be.” So I just decided to let go. Also – real talk – I wanted my hands free for a while in the space of performance and sharing. So that’s what’s happening right now, but there’s a lot of great bass players out there. It’s going to be ok!”

She went on to add that she will be using that extra time to pursue a Master’s degree in music therapy. Hopefully we will hear her grace the bass again soon.

12 Little Spells is available now on streaming platforms and will be available for download and physical copies in March. You can also check out the videos for each song on YouTube.

Spalding will take the show on the road with a 12 Little Spells tour slated for November and December. Starting in San Francisco, the trek will cross the South to the East Coast, up into Canada, and back down into the States.

12 Little Spells Track List:

  1. “12 Little Spells” – Thoracic Spine
  2. “To Tide Us Over” – Mouth
  3. “Until The Next Full” – Eyes
  4. “Thang” – Hips
  5. “Touch in Mine” – Fingers
  6. “The Longing Deep Down” – Abdominal Portal
  7. “You Have To Dance” – Feet
  8. “Now Know” – Solar Portal
  9. “All Limbs Are” – Arms
  10. “Readying to Rise” – Legs
  11. “Dancing The Animal” – Mind/Brain
  12. “With Others” – Ears

12 Little Spells Tour Dates:

Nov 19Palace of Fine Arts TheatreSan Francisco, CA
Nov 20El Rey TheatreLos Angeles, CA
Nov 27House of BluesDallas, TX
Nov 28Hobby Center for the Performing ArtsHouston, TX
Nov 29Hobby Center for the Performing ArtsHouston, TX
Dec 1Lincoln TheatreWashington, DC
Dec 3Place Des ArtsMontreal, QC
Dec 5The Vic TheatreChicago, IL
Dec 7Carnegie of Homestead Music HallMunhall, PA
Dec 8Berklee Performance CenterBoston, MA
Dec 10Buchead TheatreAtlanta, GA
Dec 12The Town HallNew York, NY

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