Esperanza Spalding is a 27-year-old, multi-ethnic multi-instrumentalist from Portland who specializes in playing the double bass and writing poppy jazz songs that complement her fluttering but fully anchored voice. Last year she won a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category and recently put out an album called Radio Music Society
. She is also one of those artists who are so very talented and so very successful but fly above the radar of many music fans because her style and sound are so clean. It might be unfair, but it's a fact—people love a high-wire act with a bit of wobble, not just somebody strolling casually across a tightrope like it's no big deal. Spalding is a highly accomplished musician who lacks that gravel in the guts that some of us crave from our artists. She is awesome but not that exciting. (Yet.) She's a conundrum. BRENDAN KILEY Also see My, What a Busy Week!