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Esperanza Spalding|SONGWRIGHTS APOTHECARY LAB

SONGWRIGHTS APOTHECARY LAB

Esperanza Spalding

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Having garnered acclaim for her sophisticated and artful blend of jazz and R&B, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding has continued to expand her sound, growing increasingly experimental and organic with each album. It's an approach she takes to yet another boldly creative level with 2021's Songwrights Apothecary Lab. The record shares its title with a class Spalding curates at Harvard that's advertised as "half songwriting workshop, and half guided-research practice," all of which sounds like it is intended to make both the writing and listening of music a more healing and uplifting experience. If that sounds somewhat esoteric and pseudo-spiritual, it is. Songwrights Apothecary Lab is a gorgeously rendered production that skirts the lines between art rock, free jazz, and wordless modern creative improvisation. Rather than using distinct song titles, Spalding designates each track as a numbered "Formwela," a term that implies something between a song, a healing mantra, and a magical incantation. Some, like "Formwela 2" with vocalist Ganavya Doraiswamy, are wordless tone poems rich with vibrant harmonic colors. Others, like "Formwela 7," are dark theatrical works featuring Spalding's half-sung/half-spoken word lyrics against a crashing cacophony of horns, all of which evokes the work of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Yet others, including three mid-album songs with vocalist/trombonist Corey King, are more lyrical, drawing upon folk and jazz influences and showcasing the duo's warm vocal harmonies. While there are deeply engaging moments on Songwrights Apothecary Lab, not to mention songs of deft compositional precision, it's an album far afield of the post-bop jazz, Latin, and R&B that initially earned Spalding attention. It's an expansive, challenging album that often feels as if we are hearing each song leap out of Spalding in the moment, fully formed or not. Nonetheless, it's clear that she is an immensely gifted and technically adept performer, something that remains at the forefront of Songwrights Apothecary Lab as she bounds with sprite-like joy through her kaleidoscopic formwelas.
© Matt Collar /TiVo

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SONGWRIGHTS APOTHECARY LAB

Esperanza Spalding

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1
Formwela 1
00:03:35

Raphael Saadiq, Producer - Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Upright Bass, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Hotae Alexander Jang, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Phoelix, Producer, Piano, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Bryan Matheson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Thrive Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Martín Actis, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

2
Formwela 2
00:06:10

Chris Sholar, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Raphael Saadiq, Producer - Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Turre, Conch Shell, AssociatedPerformer - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ganavya, FeaturedArtist - Hotae Alexander Jang, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Justin Tyson, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Ganavya Doraiswamy, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Phoelix, Producer - Bryan Matheson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Thrive Choir, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - James Greeley, Whistle, AssociatedPerformer - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - LaMont Hamilton, Bells, AssociatedPerformer - Martín Actis, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

3
Formwela 3
00:07:05

Wayne Shorter, Saxophones, AssociatedPerformer - Raphael Saadiq, Producer - Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Upright Bass, Synthesizer, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leo Genovese, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Hotae Alexander Jang, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Justin Tyson, Drums, Percussion, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Phoelix, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Xylophone, Synthesizer, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Martín Actis, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

4
Formwela 4
00:04:19

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Corey D King, Composer, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

5
Formwela 5
00:03:32

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Corey King, FeaturedArtist - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Corey D King, Composer, Producer, Vocals, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

6
Formwela 6
00:03:10

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Upright Bass, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Corey King, FeaturedArtist - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Eben Hoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Corey D King, Composer, Producer, Vocals, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

7
Formwela 7
00:03:26

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leo Genovese, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Arranger, Guitar, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aaron Burnett, Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

8
Formwela 8
00:11:39

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Author, Producer, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gretchen Parlato, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Leo Genovese, Composer, Piano, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Phoelix, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Aaron Burnett, Saxophone, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Luke Titus, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shamell Bell, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

9
Formwela 9
00:04:31

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leo Genovese, Composer, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aaron Burnett, Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

10
Formwela 10
00:03:28

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leo Genovese, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

11
Formwela 11
00:03:08

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Arranger, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, Work Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Leo Genovese, Composer, Arranger, Piano, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Composer, Arranger, Guitar, Work Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aaron Burnett, Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

12
Formwela 13
00:06:44

Oscar Zambrano, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Esperanza Spalding, Producer, Drums, Bass Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Leo Genovese, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Stevens, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Francisco Mela, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Fernando Lodeiro, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aaron Burnett, Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Esperanza Spalding Productions, LLC.

Album Description

Having garnered acclaim for her sophisticated and artful blend of jazz and R&B, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding has continued to expand her sound, growing increasingly experimental and organic with each album. It's an approach she takes to yet another boldly creative level with 2021's Songwrights Apothecary Lab. The record shares its title with a class Spalding curates at Harvard that's advertised as "half songwriting workshop, and half guided-research practice," all of which sounds like it is intended to make both the writing and listening of music a more healing and uplifting experience. If that sounds somewhat esoteric and pseudo-spiritual, it is. Songwrights Apothecary Lab is a gorgeously rendered production that skirts the lines between art rock, free jazz, and wordless modern creative improvisation. Rather than using distinct song titles, Spalding designates each track as a numbered "Formwela," a term that implies something between a song, a healing mantra, and a magical incantation. Some, like "Formwela 2" with vocalist Ganavya Doraiswamy, are wordless tone poems rich with vibrant harmonic colors. Others, like "Formwela 7," are dark theatrical works featuring Spalding's half-sung/half-spoken word lyrics against a crashing cacophony of horns, all of which evokes the work of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Yet others, including three mid-album songs with vocalist/trombonist Corey King, are more lyrical, drawing upon folk and jazz influences and showcasing the duo's warm vocal harmonies. While there are deeply engaging moments on Songwrights Apothecary Lab, not to mention songs of deft compositional precision, it's an album far afield of the post-bop jazz, Latin, and R&B that initially earned Spalding attention. It's an expansive, challenging album that often feels as if we are hearing each song leap out of Spalding in the moment, fully formed or not. Nonetheless, it's clear that she is an immensely gifted and technically adept performer, something that remains at the forefront of Songwrights Apothecary Lab as she bounds with sprite-like joy through her kaleidoscopic formwelas.
© Matt Collar /TiVo

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