Robert Glasper Trio- Live at the Jazz Showcase

     BY Maja Rios, for  UNRATED MAGAZINE, SEPT.11 2016
Pianist, Robert Glasper, started his set at , Chicago’s renown, Jazz Showcase,

With about a ten minute monologue of music jokes and ‘hip talk’ that was barely audible on a mike that probably should have been turned up.  This was a bit distracting as the audience anticipated music rather than a lot of dialogue.  However, once the music started, to an packed house of more ethnically and age diverse crows than usual, gave testament to the current popularity of spoken word mixed with instrumental background jazz that is popular with the under 40 crowd. Though not a new idea, it was somewhat effective departure from strictly just music.

     Glasper mostly performed originals from his cd’s.  they were smooth instrumental jazz and hip hop grooves. I especially loved his drummer, Damion Reid, who brought jazz-related material into the new age with his ‘beat box, 'rhythms on the high hat.

     Bassist, Vincente Archer, laid down rather simple  heavy grooves on upright bass to Glasper’s compositions.

     Glasper did one arrangement of a Prince song, ‘Sign of the Times’ that the audience seemed to devour. A fast, funky groove and hip hop drum beats sealed the deal     I especially liked the original song by Glasper with spoken word monologue of famous, singer, actor, activist, Harry Belafonte samples over an R&B-flavored groove. Harry Belafonte repeated the phrase, “ I am one of color who got over”. His monologue spoke of Black history in America, that I thought was very effective with jazz grooves underneath.
     From Glasper’s popular cd, Black Radio, he played his original vocal composition, “It Will Be Alright” as an instrumental. Originally sung by R&B vocalist, Ledesi, it worked as a smooth instrumental groove.
He then ended his set with his arrangement of a Musiq Soulchild song, that went on a little long.
     I would have liked to have heard a vocalist with him, as his simple grooves are very ‘vocal friendly’.

     No jazz standards of any kind were performed during his set and I would have liked to hear one of his renditions, like the one from Black Radio cd, that he did to Afro-Blue. I feel that Robert Glasper is capable of reinterpreting more classic material like Afro-Blue, in the future that would greatly enhance sets of mostly original music.  All in All, I enjoyed the possibilities of jazz material in a futuristic setting. |

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