ACT Reading Practice Test 89: HUMANITIES

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the article New Note: Esperanza Spalding's Music" by John Colapinto (©2010 by Cond6 Nast).

In 2008, the prodigiously gifted bassist, singer,
and composer Esperanza Spalding released her major-
label debut, Esperanza, which she recorded as a
twenty-three-year-old instructor at the Berklee College
5of Music, in Boston. While the music was indisputably
jazz, it suggested an almost bewildering array of influ-
ences-fusion, funk, soul, rhythm and blues, Brazilian
samba and Cuban son, pop balladry, chanted vocalese--
with lyrics sung in Spalding's three languages: English,
10Portuguese, and Spanish. An ebullient mash-up of
sounds, styles, and tongues, the record seemed like
something new-jazz for the iPod age-and it rose
quickly to No. 3 on the Billboard jazz chart, and stayed
on the chart for sixty-two weeks. The freshness and the
15excitement of her approach have led, inevitably, to her
being called the "new hope for jazz."
Spalding, born in 1984 in Portland, Oregon, to a
single mother of African American, Asian, Native
American, and Hispanic heritage, belongs to a growing
20movement of young musicians who have taken a less
traditional approach to the music. For years, young jazz
musicians adopted a near slavish devotion to sounding
like players from jazz's golden age (anywhere between
the nineteen-twenties and the arrival of the Beatles in
25America, in 1964), rejecting the pop, rock, and fusion
experimentation that came in the nineteen-seventies
and eighties. The members of the Young Lions move-
ment, with Wynton Marsalis the most visible among
them, fetishized staunchly noncommercial "pure" jazz.

30Attendance at jazz concerts bas been declining for
years; a hit jan album today might sell forty thousand
copies worldwide. Esperanza has so far sold more than
a hundred thousand. This is, in part, because Spalding
hews closer to dance rhythms than many of her contem-
35poraries do. (Jazz has become increasingly compli-
cated, piling on odd meters and abstruse melodies.) It is
also because she sings; for audiences put off by the
cerebral rigors of instrumental improvisation, her pliant
also voice gives them something to hang on to. But her
40original songs sacrifice none of the melodic sophistica-
tion and harmonic interest of jazz; and she is as techni-
cally adept, and as serious a student of the music's
history, as the most dutiful of the Young Lions.

Spalding is passionate about bringing fresh influ-
45ences, voices. and idioms to the music. to prevent jazz
from becoming merely "a museum piece," as she put it.
In the course of a year, she plays a hundred and fifty
concert dates around the world. In 2009, she played at
the Nohel Peace Prize ceremony, in Oslo, Norway. The
50schedule sharply limits the time she bas for writing new
material and practicing. She moved to Texas last fall in
part because it offers seclusion for working and writing.

In mid-January. Spalding spent a few days in a
state-of-the-art recording facility in New Jersey, over-
55seeing the recording of the string arrangements for her
new album, Chamber Music Society. Present at the ses-
sions was Gil Goldstein, a jazz accordion player and
Grammy-winning arranger and producer. Hired as an
arranger for the project, Goldstein had tweaked
60Spalding's string parts for the number "Apple Blos-
som." Although the two had worked smoothly through
most of the session, Spalding balked at the changes to
the song.

"Your string parts are too busy," Spalding told
65him, as they sat on a sofa in the studio's control room.

"Busy?"Goldstein echoed, laughing. "No way!"

"It's so delicate--[ don't want it to get too'dense."

Spalding insisted on reverting to her earlier, sim-
pler arrangement. Goldstein assented, then went into
70the soundproofed studio and began conducting the trio
of violin, cello, and viola. But Spalding was not hearing
what she wanted. She took the baton from Goldstein,
who surrendered it without complaint. (He later told me
that he likes it when a musician knows what he or she
75wants, and that it makes for a better recording.) She put
on headphones and, following the sheet music spread
out in front of her on the conductor's podium, guided
the musicians through the session. At the one point,she
demanded a retake when she wanted the violinist to
80play a certain note with an upward bow motion, rather
than a downstroke. Later, she asked the violinist to play
a series of notes by plucking the strings. She was unsat-
isfied with the sound.

"Maybe make that plucking more Jike bells-ting.
85ting, ting,", she said.

The violinist mimicked the motion she had mimed
at the podium and brought out a bell-like sound.

"Yes!" Spalding said.

1. In general, the author presents Spalding as:

A. an accomplished, versatile musician who is taking jazz in an exciting new direction.
B. a young and inspiring musician whose explo-rations in jazz may one day propel her out of her current obscurity.
C. an overlooked but potentially influential musician who is discouraged by the decline of jazz.
D. a creative person who stays within the limits of one musical genre, achieving spectacular results as a result of her focused efforts.

2. Lines 53-56 mark a shift in the passage from:

F. a discussion of the impact Spalding has had on others to a discussion of the impact others have had on her.
G. an overview of Spalding's career, philosophy, and experience to a description of an event that sup-ports the claims made in the overview.
H. a description of Spalding as a performer to a description of her as a student
J. a description of events in Spalding's recent past to a description of a defining moment early in her career.

3. It is reasonable to infer that the sheet music referred to in line 76 was composed by:

A. one of Spalding's teachers at Berklee.
B. Spalding.
C. Marsalis.
D. one of Spalding's proteges

4. As presented in lines 68-88, Spalding's manner of working with musicians can best be described as:

F. repetitive, contradictory, and impatient.
G. mild mannered, imaginative, and accepting.
H. humorous, self-effacing, and energetic.
J. persistent, precise, and ultimately affirming

5. According to the passage, how well has Spalding's first major-label jazz recording fared in the marketplace?

A. Its sales have more than doubled those of a stan-dard hit jazz album of the time.
B. It has drawn some attention in the United States but made a huge splash in Europe.
C. Its poor sales have contributed to Spalding's deci-sion to develop a jazz style that better reflects her passion.
D. Its sales were slow at first but picked up rapidly after Goldstein began promoting Spalding.

6. The passage states that which of the following approaches to jazz sets Spalding apart from many of her contemporaries?

F. She looks to Marsalis as her mentor at a time when her jazz contemporaries look to Goldstein.
G. She considers studying jazz history to be a liability.
H. She prefers composing over performing.
J. She imcorporates dance rhythms in her work.

7. As it is used in line 37, the expression put off most nearly means:

A. postponed.
B. repelled.
C. released.
D. misplaced.

8. As it is used in line 46, the phrase "a museum piece" is intended as a form of:

F. praise.
G. encouragement.
H. criticism.
J. inquiry.

9. According to the passage, how many concert dates does Spalding perform a year?

A. A handful
B. Between twenty and fifty
C. Between fifty-one and one hundred
D. One hundred and fifty

10. What was the source of Spalding's irritation during the recording session described in the passage?

F. Goldstein had complicated a section of Spalding's "Apple Blossom" that Spalding wanted to keep simple.
G. Goldstein had dropped the string section from the musical score of Chamber Music Society.
H. The musicians had misunderstood which part Qf Spalding's score was left open for improvisation
J. Goldstein had wanted to feature strings in a sec-tion of "Apple Blossom" that Spalding had written for bells.