Bassist/vocalist/composer Esperanza Spalding will performing at the Milliken Auditorium at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City on January 23. And she will, in fact challenge and expand the listener’s perceptions of jazz.

Every few years, a new artist comes along with talent and potential so great that it challenges and redefines the common perceptions of what jazz is and where it’s heading.  The new light on the horizon may be a compelling vocalist one year, or perhaps an unmatched instrumental virtuoso a few years later, or maybe a brilliant composer a few more years down the road.

Her accelerated back story follows a breathtaking arc.  A musical prodigy since her childhood in Portland, Oregon, Esperanza enrolled at Berklee College of Music at 16 and not only excelled there but eventually became the youngest professor in the school’s history.  Before finishing school, she had already landed coveted touring gigs and recording projects with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Patti Austin, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny and other luminaries who were, in many cases, the shining lights of their own generations.

Armed with uncanny instrumental chops, a siren voice that spans three languages, and composing and arranging skills that weave together the best elements of the old-school with the progressive, this 23-year-old takes a completely fresh and refreshing approach to jazz by incorporating the rich traditions of soul, pop, world music and so much more.

Spalding recently performed to a worldwide audience at the Noble Peace Prize ceremony and concert presentations in Oslo, Norway and had performed previously at the White House in programs coordinated by Stevie Wonder. “This is a great opportunity for concert goers in Traverse City to hear one of the truly great rising stars in jazz today,” says Gene Jenneman, Director of the Dennos Museum Center, “Her performance here is made possible through the collaborative programming being brought to the Dennos via the Wharton Center at MSU and is in the tradition of bringing outstanding young talent to our stage at the beginning of their careers.” 
Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 at the door, $22 for Museum Members. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Museum Box office at 231-995-1553 or on line at

 For more information on Esperanza Spalding go to

With the purchase of a ticket to this performance, concert goers are invited to visit the museum’s galleries one hour before the concert and attend a post concert reception with the performers.

The Dennos Museum Center concert season is supported in part by a grant from the Osterlin Performance Endowment, and the Robert T. Hughes Family Trust. WNMC 90.7 fm and TV 29&8 provide media support. Housing for Esperanza Spalding and her band is provided by Cambria Suites of Traverse City. Esperanza Spalding concert is made possible in Traverse City by the Wharton Center at Michigan State University.

The Dennos Museum Center is open daily 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursdays until 8 PM, and Sundays 1-5 PM. Admission is $6.00 adults, $4.00 for children and free to museum members. For more information on the Museum and its programs, go to or call 231-995-1055. The Dennos Museum Center is located at 1701 East Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686, at the entrance to the campus of Northwestern Michigan College.

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