Esperanza Spalding was explaining why she did a marathon 77-hour recording session and live-streamed it with 1.4 million listeners on Facebook, to create her album “Exposure.”
“I really wanted to expose the raw process of creating something,” Spalding told the crowd at the Ralph Pucci International showroom on West 18th Street in Manhattan, which on Monday was transformed into a jazz club to benefit Jazz House Kids, a nonprofit music education organization in Montclair, N.J., for young people.
“It wasn’t so much about the results. The results are awesome,” said the audacious Esperanza. “But it’s really about the process. For me, the project was a lot about me creating my own narrative. It was scary, uncomfortable and a lot of it was very cathartic.”
The 33-year-old Spalding, who looks half her age, was accompanied by another jazz great, Christian McBride, in an intimate evening of music and conversation. Spalding said her life with music began at age five. “I started with the violin, but those big warm bass notes ruined it forever. When I plucked it, the sound pulled me in. I wouldn’t let go.”
The two bass players talked and performed together for about 90 minutes, including playing a rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” and Spalding singing Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” The grand finale brought five of the students from Jazz House Kids on stage, improvising with McBride and Spalding, and uplifting the crowd of 165, which raised more than $80,000 for Jazz House Kids.
“Jazz House Kids takes the place of what public schools used to do for kids,” said McBride.
“Once a year, Ralph gets to have his dream — to have a jazz club,” said Melissa Walker, president and founder of Jazz House Kids.