THE ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT, BLACK RADIO

Pianist Robert Glasper arrives at the nexus of jazz, hip-hop, R&B and pop on the much-anticipated “Black Radio,” a state-of-the-art album that soars with deft rhymes, thick beats and a top-tier array of guests starting with Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello and Lalah Hathaway. Glasper, a genuine jazz guy, hinted at the possibilities of reshaping his music on “Double Booked” (Blue Note, 2009), his previous album that programmed trio-based tunes upfront and let looser material fly with his band, saxist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge and knock-out drummer Chris Dave, all of whom assist in delivering the goods here.

This immaculate production follows pioneering records by Guru, De La Soul and mostly, A Tribe Called Quest, but what makes “Radio” hum is the jolt of genuine pianism that courses through the album’s veins, particularly when Glasper lets loose on winning covers of David Bowie’s “Letter To Hermione,” and a cerebrally funky “Smells Like Teen Spirit” where Benjamin’s vocoder blends with spacey, ray-gun effects and a Zapp-infused groove. There’s a dose of MC-styled social consciousness (“Always Shine” with Lupe Fiasco and Bilal; the beat-heavy title tune with Mos Def) that comfortably shares space with heart+soul tracks like the sweetly gorgeous “Move” with KING and “Ah Yeah” with Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette, that helps make listening to the venture a gratifying experience. Like others before him, notably trumpeter Roy Hargrove recording as The RH Factor and trumpeter Nicholas Payton whose self-released “Bitches” was a superior jazz-hop hybrid that no domestic label wanted to touch, Glasper is confidently at peace in all realms of his musical world and even with the incredible all-star line up, there’s no doubting that on “Radio” the pianist shines the brightest of all. (12 tracks; 63:47 minutes) 

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JAZZ IN SPACE: THE ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT, BLACK RADIO

Friday, February 24, 2012

THE ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT, BLACK RADIO

Pianist Robert Glasper arrives at the nexus of jazz, hip-hop, R&B and pop on the much-anticipated “Black Radio,” a state-of-the-art album that soars with deft rhymes, thick beats and a top-tier array of guests starting with Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello and Lalah Hathaway. Glasper, a genuine jazz guy, hinted at the possibilities of reshaping his music on “Double Booked” (Blue Note, 2009), his previous album that programmed trio-based tunes upfront and let looser material fly with his band, saxist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge and knock-out drummer Chris Dave, all of whom assist in delivering the goods here.

This immaculate production follows pioneering records by Guru, De La Soul and mostly, A Tribe Called Quest, but what makes “Radio” hum is the jolt of genuine pianism that courses through the album’s veins, particularly when Glasper lets loose on winning covers of David Bowie’s “Letter To Hermione,” and a cerebrally funky “Smells Like Teen Spirit” where Benjamin’s vocoder blends with spacey, ray-gun effects and a Zapp-infused groove. There’s a dose of MC-styled social consciousness (“Always Shine” with Lupe Fiasco and Bilal; the beat-heavy title tune with Mos Def) that comfortably shares space with heart+soul tracks like the sweetly gorgeous “Move” with KING and “Ah Yeah” with Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette, that helps make listening to the venture a gratifying experience. Like others before him, notably trumpeter Roy Hargrove recording as The RH Factor and trumpeter Nicholas Payton whose self-released “Bitches” was a superior jazz-hop hybrid that no domestic label wanted to touch, Glasper is confidently at peace in all realms of his musical world and even with the incredible all-star line up, there’s no doubting that on “Radio” the pianist shines the brightest of all. (12 tracks; 63:47 minutes) 

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