“Real music is crash protected,” state the liner notes of Black Radio, a future landmark album by the Robert Glasper Experiment that boldly stakes out new musical territory and transcends any notion of genre, drawing from jazz, hip-hop, R&B and rock, but refusing to be pinned down by any one tag. Like an aircraft’s black box for which the album is titled, Black Radio holds the truth and is indestructible.
Robert Glasper has long kept one foot planted firmly in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B. He’s worked extensively with Q-Tip, playing keyboards on the rapper’s 2008 album The Renaissance and co-writing the album single “Life Is Better” which featured his label mate Norah Jones. Glasper also serves as the music director in Yasiin Bey’s touring band, and has toured with the multi-platinum R&B singer Maxwell.
The Los Angeles Times once wrote that “it’s a short list of jazz pianists who have the wherewithal to drop a J Dilla reference into a Thelonious Monk cover, but not many jazz pianists are Robert Glasper,” adding that “he’s equally comfortable in the worlds of hip-hop and jazz,” and praising the organic way in which he “builds a bridge between his two musical touchstones.”
Glasper drove that point home with his last album, 2009’s Double-Booked, which was split neatly in half. The first part featured his acoustic Trio, which had gathered a great deal of acclaim in the jazz world and beyond over the course of two previous Blue Note albums (2005’s Canvas and 2007’s In My Element). The second part featured his electric Experiment band and hinted at things to come, even earning the keyboardist his first GRAMMY nomination for “All Matter,” a collaboration with the singer Bilal that was among the contenders in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category in 2010.
With Black Radio, the Experiment band has fully arrived. Featuring Glasper on piano and Fender Rhodes, Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Chris Dave on drums, the band is plugged in and open source. Each of the band members is prodigiously talented and lives naturally in multiple musical worlds, distilling countless influences into a singular voice. “That’s what makes this band unique,” says Glasper. “We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it.”
IF YOU WANT TO GO:
When: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Location: Neighborhood Theatre (511 E. 36th Street)
Time: 7:30 pm
Cost: GA Tickets $20 adv/$25 day of the show- Gold Circle $30