All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

73

Robert Glasper: Black Radio

By

Sign in to view read count
Depending on your age, Houston-born pianist/composer Robert Glasper is—like trumpeters Christian Scott and Ambrose Akinmusire, and bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding-either the herald of a new world a-comin' when jazz musicians will be heard on pop radio on a regular basis, or he's a throwback to the golden age of the seventies, when jazz stars, from Herbie Hancock to Donald Byrd, were played on African-American and pop stations.

Blessed with a fleet-fingered, countrified approach to the piano that blends gospel, Thelonious Monk and hip-hop producer J Dilla, Black Radio is a propulsive, poetic and profound recording that deftly and defiantly destroys the market-driven barriers that sadly make terrestrial radio the Apartheid-airwave experience it is today. Like the most successful jazz musicians who had pop hits back in the day, Glasper understands that it's not about extended, solos (those can be heard on his last three Blue Note releases); it's about creating an open, melodic and rhythmic quantum universe where, in Duke Ellington's beautiful phrase, "the feeling of jazz" effortlessly melds with R&B, rock, hip-hop, neo-soul and quiet storm formats.

Glasper also perceptively peeped that great records are all about the collab, and on Black Radio he's in superb company, with Erykah Badu, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway and Musiq Soulchild, lending their neo-soul vocals on blue-lights-in-the-basement ballads like "Ah Yeah," and Sade's "Cherish The Day." Glasper and company puts a turbo-charged, hip-hop spin on Mongo Santamaria's Latin jazz classic "Afro-Blue," and the leader revives his own "Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)," previously released on In My Element (Blue Note, 2007), but this time with lyrics rendered in lush-life fashion by Ledisi. Rapper Mos Def's Crooklyn cadences rock the title track, contrasted by the martial reinterpretation of David Bowie's guitar-centric "Letter to Hermione" and a twilight-toned reimagining of Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit," complete with Casey Benjamin's grooving and ghostly vocoder lead vocal, and Hathaway's ethereal fills.

Buoyed by the swing-at-the-speed-of-sound support of Benjamin, drummer, Chris Dave and bassist Derrick Hodge, the ingenious, swinging, syncopated science of the Robert Glasper Experiment will no doubt make the 21st century reintegration of jazz aesthetic into pop radio a reality.

Track Listing: Lift Off/Mic Check; Afro Blue; Cherish The Day; Always Shine; Gonna Be Alright(F.T.B.); Move Love; Ah Yeah; Consequences of Jealousy; Why Do We Try; Black Radio; Letter to Hermione; Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Personnel: Robert Glasper: piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards; Casey Benjamin: vocoder, alto saxophone, flute (1, 2, 4-6, 8-12); Derrick Hodge: bass; Chris Dave: drums; Jahi Sundance: turntables (1, 10); Eykah Badu: vocals (2); Lalah Hathaway (3, 12); Mos Def: vocals (10); Shafiq Husayn: vocals (1); Bilal (4, 11); Stokley Williams: vocals, percussion (9, 12); Chrisette Michele: vocals (7); Musiq Soulchild: vocals, sampling (7); Meshell Ndegeocello: vocals (8); Amber Strother: vocal (6), Anita Bias: vocals (6); Ledisi: vocals (5); Lupe Fiasco: vocal (4).

Title: Black Radio | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Shades CD/LP/Track Review
Shades
by Doug Collette
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World CD/LP/Track Review
Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Pattern Recognition CD/LP/Track Review
Pattern Recognition
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Just This CD/LP/Track Review
Just This
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Live at Sowieso CD/LP/Track Review
Live at Sowieso
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 20, 2018
Read Displaced Diaspora CD/LP/Track Review
Displaced Diaspora
by Chris May
Published: October 19, 2018
Read "Jazz Tango" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Ancient Agents" CD/LP/Track Review Ancient Agents
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Solo vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Solo vol. 1
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "The Heart Already Knows" CD/LP/Track Review The Heart Already Knows
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 27, 2018
Read "Two Hands To Tango" CD/LP/Track Review Two Hands To Tango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 15, 2018
Read "Manna for Thought" CD/LP/Track Review Manna for Thought
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 2, 2018