Album: Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza (Heads Up)

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The Independent Culture

Looks like Angela Davis, plays double bass like Charles Mingus, and sings like, well, anyone really. The second album by the US bass-fiddle prodigy is frustrating.

You know that Spalding is good, but instead of testing her mettle, this ingratiating set has her singing in a generic, soully style for 10 of the 11 tracks. (Her voice is great for a bass player, but nothing to worry Ella Fitzgerald's estate.) Some of the material – Nascimento's "Ponta de Areia", "Body & Soul" – is good, and the Latin-jazz style effective, but we need more chance for her chops to shine through.

Pick of the Album: 'If That's True': with Donald Harrison on sax