Get our free newsletter
A jazz musician who draws inspiration from funk, soul, and Lilith Fair–ready songwriters, Esperanza Spalding knits together an amalgam of styles in a way that’s surprisingly clear, never mottled. She plays the stand-up bass with effortless panache, strumming, plucking, smacking, and challenging the boundaries of what wood and strings can do. She uses her voice like a Blue-era Joni Mitchell, adding depth to what, on the page, can look like corny lyrics. (On “Cinnamon Tree,” from her latest album, Radio Music Society, Spalding pulls off the lyrics “Cinnamon tree, graceful and free/We meet just once in a while but the spice in your smile is magic to me” without inducing a single groan.) To celebrate her birth month, she hits the road on a two-week “Thank You October” tour with longtime collaborators Leo Genovese and Lyndon Rochelle. Spalding will pare down her arrangements, gently filling the Birchmere with songs from her first three albums. Esperanza Spalding performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $65. (703) 549-7500. birchmere.com.