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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lynne Carrington played Cobb Energy Centre Friday night

Jazz bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding (left) performs with Atlanta-based singer Algebra Blessett at the Cobb Energy Centre on Oct. 19.
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  • Jazz bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding (left) performs with Atlanta-based singer Algebra Blessett at the Cobb Energy Centre on Oct. 19.
Last Friday, I had the chance to check out the Ladies of Jazz concert, featuring sets by drummer Terri Lynne Carrington and vocalist/bassist Esperanza Spalding, at the Cobb Energy Centre, and make no bones about it, the show was stellar. But it did leave me with one major thought: Two great tastes don’t always go great together.

You didn’t have to listen too hard to determine that Carrington and Spalding are clearly gifted musicians. But their approaches to live performance are so different, putting them on a stage, one after the other, is maybe not the greatest idea.

Carrington, who played first and was joined by four other musicians, served up an intimate (almost introverted) show, which was devoid of vocals (and short on conversation as well) and dominated by relatively moody sounds. Honestly, Carrington and Co.’s low-key style of play was probably suited more for a small jazz club than a large auditorium like the Energy Centre.

Spalding, on the other hand, was accompanied by a big band-style crew and played an accessible set of tunes made to move the crowd. On top of that, she engaged the audience by explaining her songs, telling tales, cracking jokes, and more. Focusing entirely on her R&B-tinged album Radio Music Society, and punctuated by a guest appearance by Atlanta-based soul singer Algebra Blessett on the song "Black Gold," Spalding's time on stage was designed for folks who were probably decompressing from a long week at work.

Now, both Spalding’s and Carrington’s performance styles are valid, but they don’t necessarily complement each other for a combined listening experience.

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