Robert Glasper Experiment
Saturday, October 6th
Blue Note Records has produced some of the best jazz musicians of all time. Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan and so many more have left their mark on the label, established in 1939. Recently, artists like Madlib, Jay Dilla, and Pete Rock have sampled these artists and brought them into hip hop and to a contemporary audience but they took those jazzists’ original ideas and transformed them. Now, talented pianist and record producer Robert Glasper aims to capture the true feel of those early artists by creating his own original work while adding in a new energy with elements of hip hop, neo soul, and even rock. This year the 34-year-old, under the name the Robert Glasper Experiment, released his masterpiece, and Blue Note debut, Black Radio, a fusion of jazz and hip hop that features artists like Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def). “I feel like jazz needs a big ass-slap,” Glasper said in a recent interview with jazz magazine, Downbeat. Black Radio is the slap, and it is really an enigma. It sounds like jazz, it sounds like soul, it sounds like hip hop, but there is something different under the hood that might just sneak up on you. Like when soul singer Bilal gently sings the lyrics to David Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione” over a piano driven jazz track or when the record ends with a surprising cover of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit,” which replaces gritty guitars with soft rumbling rhythms and Kurt Cobain’s pained voice with distant vocoder vocals that would have even the hardest hip hop fan in tears. Black Radio is a collage of musical genres that ignores boundaries. It has its foundation in the past but sounds like the music of the future and the only thing better than listening to this record is watching the band perform it live. The Robert Glasper Experiment will perform live at the Tralf on Saturday (Oct 6). Don’t miss it. —cory perla
Below: the Robert Glasper Experiment performs “Smells Like Teen Spirit” live.