Clearwater Jazz Holiday Adds Esperanza Spalding and Kurt Elling

In a nice coup for the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, both fast-rising bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding and critically acclaimed vocalist Kurt Elling have been named to play the fest’s Saturday night lineup.

Spalding, who unexpectedly won Best New Artist in the 2011 Grammy Awards, beating out teenypop sensation Justin Bieber (resulting in much weeping and gnashing of teeth among adolescent and teen girls and “what happened?” apoplexy from some observers)  is a great pick for the fest. She’s a terrific upright, electric and fretless player, touring in support of this year’s Radio Music Society, an intriguing melting pop of jazz, pop, funk, and R&B styles. My review of the album, for Relix magazine, is here.

The Chicago-based Elling has been justifiably praised for a freewheeling vocal style, rooted in the jazz tradition, that is also highly individualistic.  His most recent CD, The Gate, was released last year on Concord. “Since the 1990s, Kurt Elling has proved a most innovative jazz singer,” Thom Jurek wrote for AllMusic.Com. “His recordings — particularly The Messenger, Man in the Air, and Nightmoves — also reveal him to be a modern jazz visionary.”

The fest also includes veteran blues ‘n’ rock great Bonnie Raitt, whose impressive new Slipstream is her first studio recording in seven years;  raucous siblings-led Americana/rock band The Avett Brothers; and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, a soul-rooted band with a horn section (they impressed at the WMNF Tropical Heatwave).

Also: A smooth-jazz package with saxophonist Mindi Abair, fusion shredder Jeff Golub,  on guitar, and David Pack, the former lead singer for soft-rock hitmakers Ambrosia (“Biggest Part of Me,” “You’re the Only Woman”); saxophonist Tia Fuller‘s quartet, singer-songwriter Maia Sharp, and a group led by Orlando-based pianist Carol Stein (who happens to be an old bandmate of mine from our days with the UF Jazz Band).

And more to come.

The 33rd annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday will be held Oct. 18-21 at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater. For the complete lineup and additional details, click here.

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