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Robert Glasper: Canvas

Chris May By

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Robert Glasper: Canvas
Of the three dozen albums released in Blue Note's 180gm vinyl Blue Note 80 reissue series, Robert Glasper's 2005 debut, Canvas, is the only one recorded in the twenty-first century. Almost all of the other releases were recorded during Blue Note's 1950s and 1960s belle epoque. It is a singular distinction and an appropriate one, for several reasons.

Top of the list is Glasper's place in jazz's piano trio lineage. Since Bill Evans elevated piano trios to previously unscaled heights between 1959 and 1961, with four albums recorded with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, Glasper's trio is one of only a tiny handful which has come near to matching either the seraphic beauty of the leader's own playing or the degree of interplay existing between all three musicians. The Evans trio's Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby (both Riverside, 1961) may never be bettered, but Glasper's trio comes deliciously close on Canvas and on In My Element (Blue Note, 2007) and Covered (Blue Note, 2015).

It is one of the great tragedies in jazz history that the passing of LaFaro in an auto accident ten days after Sunday and Waltz were recorded denied Evans, LaFaro and Motian the opportunity to lay down a more extensive catalogue. Like Evans, Glasper knows the value of like-minded colleagues, and all three of his trio's 2005—2015 albums were recorded with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid. (Canvas includes guest saxophonist Mark Turner and vocalist Bilal on two tracks each).

Glasper's affirmation of the enduring relevance of the classic trio format is enhanced by his mastery of other, more recently established genres, notably hip hop. He first tipped his toe in that water on Double Booked (Blue Note, 2009), went deeper on four subsequent albums with the Robert Glasper Experiment, and reached full immersion with 2019's charmingly titled Fuck Yo Feelings (Loma Vista). Along the way, he has continued to venerate the Blue Note tradition, as demonstrated on the Blue Note All-Stars' outstanding Our Point Of View (Blue Note, 2017), which features Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock alongside a septet of Glasper's contemporaries.

All of which makes Canvas an album to be savoured and one much deserving of 180gm reissue.

Track Listing

Rise And Shine; Canvas; Portrait Of An Angel; Enoch's Meditation; Centelude; Jelly's Da Beener; Chant; Riot; North Portland; I Remember.

Personnel

Robert Glasper: piano; Vicente Archer: bass; Damion Reid: drums; Mark Turner: saxophone, tenor; Bilal: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Canvas | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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