Tuesday, November 2

Eternity is in love with the productions of time ...

If the author of this quote, William Blake, was right, eternity must be building up a great fondness for Esperanza Spalding. The young bassist, vocalist and composer has certainly been making quite a splash in the jazz world in the last couple of years. She has a fresh and soulful command of the acoustic bass, impeccable time, a beautiful voice and singing style, and is a compelling performer, seemingly wise much beyond her years (just turned 26).

The PBS art blog that I follow and am always eager to recommend recently featured the young artist from Portland, Oregon. I am embedding a clip below of her performance of a piece called 'Little Fly', in which she sets William Blake's poem 'The Fly' to music.

So, what do you think: how cool is Esperanza (whose name means "hope" in Spanish)? Here is the Blake poem.

I was particularly taken by her explanation of how she came to compose this piece, a poem that she pasted up on her desk and then macerated in her imagination for years. You can hear for yourselves in the video below ...

I'll close with a well-known and always timely scrap of verse from William Blake ...

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.


  1. nice. love the musical rendition fo the verse...very nice.

  2. Good morning to you Brian (my afternoon actually). Glad you liked her take on that little fly.

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  4. that scrap of verse by Blake at the end of your post is a good way to view the world.

  5. Esperanza is pure delight, and quite a muse. I just love how she wrote the music without realizing it fit the words.

    And see Blake's poem about muses . . . I can't imagine that for him the muses' notes were ever few, but so he says, or maybe he speaks for others . . .


    by: William Blake

    HETHER on Ida's shady brow
    Or in the chambers of the East,
    The chambers of the Sun, that now
    From ancient melody have ceased;

    Whether in heaven ye wander fair,
    Or the green corners of the earth,
    Or the blue regions of the air
    Where the melodious winds have birth;

    Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
    Beneath the bosom of the sea,
    Wandering in many a coral grove;
    Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry;

    How have you left the ancient love
    That bards of old enjoy'd in you!
    The languid strings do scarcely move,
    The sound is forced, the notes are few.

  6. I, too, subscribe to the PBS blog and also watched the wonderful clip of Spalding singing the Blake poem. To hear it is to be transported. Spalding definitely deserves the attention.

  7. I enjoyed listening to the music. The poetry is splendid.

  8. Esperanza is exquisite in every way. She serenades, so tenderly, the 'little fly' in us all.

    I love the closing shot of her in the music video with just a bit of light caressing her profile. Thank you Lorenzo for introducing her to us here.

  9. Extraordinary !!! Thanks for introducing me to Esperanza Spaulding. I'm off to see if I can download some more of her music.

  10. What a talent! Love the way the music truly fits the words, and especially her account of how "accidental" that was. (I picture the little fly flitting over the strings of Esperanza's bass)
    Many thanks for this.

  11. Lorenzo--missed you! this is amazing! I am going to look for more of her music!! How was your trip to New Jersey? c

  12. She has a melodic voice, and the plucking of the strings? Gorgeous addition to the fine lyrics, Blake is a master.

  13. Thank you for introducing us to this remarkable young musician. I enjoyed the deceptively simple performance, yet it is rich with layers, just like Blake's poem.

    It's amazing how the poem seeped into her being and how, in turn, it was reborn into a new dimension.

  14. Ah from my neck of the woods, what a small world we do share, a Portland gal made good, -- something to say for home schooling, a talented woman she is, and I am sure we will here a lot more from this young woman as time flows bye.

    Nice post Lorenzo.


  15. She's wonderful. Her bow moving sounds a bit like the fly's buzzing, too, oui?

  16. One of my favorite artists, John Vanderslice, also has a take on this Blake poem...but for the life of me I can't find it on Youtube.

    Love Blake's illustrations, btw.


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