Milton Nascimento and Esperanza Spalding Unite on New Album

Written by | New Releases, News

On August 9th, Concord Records will unveil ‘Milton + esperanza,’ a dream collaboration between Brazilian legend Milton Nascimento and the decorated musician/composer Esperanza Spalding. This album is more than just a meeting of minds; it’s a profound exploration of generational exchange, a celebration of Brazil’s rich musical heritage, and a testament to the enduring power of artistic friendship.

Recorded throughout 2023 in Brazil, ‘Milton + esperanza’ is a 16-track odyssey that pays homage to Nascimento’s beloved classics while introducing fresh originals from Spalding’s ever-evolving repertoire. The album sparkles with duets between these two iconic voices, exquisite musicianship, and a central theme that Spalding holds dear: the importance of younger generations creating with, learning from, and building new worlds with their elders.

Milton Nascimento is a once-in-a-generation talent, a national treasure of Brazil, and a revered figure across the globe. His evocative lyricism, unpredictable melodies, and harmonics have influenced generations of musicians, including a young Esperanza Spalding, who first encountered his music at a dinner party with Brazilian friends. As she recalls, “I get chills even thinking about it. Ninety percent of things I write, I’m thinking of him. I’s imagining singing it with him. He’s a very present part of my creative imagination.”

Nascimento’s impact on Brazilian music is immeasurable. His 1972 double album ‘Clube Da Esquina’ is a masterpiece that synthesizes the kaleidoscopic pop ambitions of the Beatles, the exploratory jazz of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Western classical, and Indigenous Brazilian music. Pitchfork awarded it a coveted 9.5 in their Sunday Review in 2018, deeming it “one of the most ambitious albums in Brazilian history.”

Spalding, a five-time GRAMMY winner and 11-time nominee, is no stranger to pushing boundaries and challenging conventions. Her previous releases, including the GRAMMY-winning ‘songwrights apothecary lab’ (2021) and ’12 Little Spells’ (2019), have cemented her reputation as a dexterous and innovative artist who delights and provokes in equal measure.

On ‘Milton + esperanza,’ Spalding serves as producer, arranger, and executive producer, ensuring that the project maintains its authenticity and connection to Brazil. Her originals, such as the exuberant “Wings for the Thought Bird” and “Get It By Now,” are fresh additions to her ever-evolving catalog, showcasing her ability to challenge and delight simultaneously.

Photo by Lucas Nogueira

‘Milton + esperanza’ is a true meeting of minds, a convergence of two artists separated by generations but united by their love for music and their desire to create something extraordinary. The album features reimagined versions of Nascimento’s classics, including the emotionally forceful “Outubro” from 1969 and the towering “Cais” from ‘Clube Da Esquina.’ These tracks showcase the dynamic interplay between Nascimento’s and Spalding’s voices, swirling together in a truly soaring duet.

The album also features fascinating interpretations of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” and Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” further expanding the musical horizons explored. Special guest appearances by Paul Simon, Dianne Reeves, Lianne La Havas, Maria Gadú, Tim Bernardes, Carolina Shorter, and Shabaka Hutchings add depth and richness to this already remarkable collaboration.

At its core, ‘Milton + esperanza’ is a celebration of generational exchange, a testament to the power of artistic friendship, and a reminder that music transcends boundaries of age, culture, and geography. As Spalding notes, “It’s about the importance of younger generations creating with, learning from, and building new worlds with elders.”

The album concludes with an expansive 9-minute take on Wayne Shorter’s “When You Dream,” featuring his wife Carolina Shorter. It’s a powerful and emotional bookend to a project that sought inspiration in connecting with our elders, as well as a way to honor Shorter, Spalding’s mentor and collaborator who passed away in 2021.

‘Milton + esperanza’ is more than just an album; it’s a landmark moment in the history of jazz, a testament to the enduring power of artistic collaboration, and a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Brazil. As Spalding embarks on her first major tour since 2019, with dates scheduled throughout 2024 and a 12-night residency at the Blue Note in New York City in 2025, this album will undoubtedly resonate with audiences worldwide, solidifying the legacies of both Milton Nascimento and Esperanza Spalding as true visionaries of their craft.

Last modified: May 24, 2024