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Bilal

If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul categorization seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled the sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the '60 and '70s, and it wasn't just because his voice — classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages — was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped from a major label, and he went several years without releasing any solo material. Through evangelism from his peers and word of mouth from his early fans, Bilal gained an insatiable following and was supported by sympathetic independent labels, where he was finally able to thrive creatively.

Bilal Sayeed Oliver came up in Germantown, a northwest neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A deep interest in jazz was fostered by his father, who took him to the city's clubs. Singing eventually became more than an interest. He attended New York's New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he received voice training, as well as training in jazz and big-band arrangements.

Grenique's Black Butterfly, a 1999 release on Motown, was the first major album to feature Bilal's vocals; he contributed to three songs. The following year, he established a deep connection to hip-hop by appearing on Common's Like Water for Chocolate and Guru's third Jazzmatazz album. These recordings led him into the Soulquarians, a rotating collective of collaborators who included Common, Jay Dee (aka J Dilla), the Roots' Ahmir Thompson, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Raphael Saadiq within its ranks.

A turbulent solo deal with Interscope resulted in Bilal's debut album, 1st Born Second. An exemplary neo-soul release featuring collaborations with Mike City, Robert Glasper, and many of the Soulquarians, it was issued in July 2001 and reached the Top Ten of Billboard's R&B albums chart. One of its three singles, "Soul Sista," peaked at number 18 on the R&B singles chart, while "Fast Lane" — co-written with Damu and Faulu Mtume (the sons of James Mtume and two of the singer's earliest supporters) — narrowly missed the Top 40. At that point, the closest points of comparison were D'Angelo and Maxwell, yet Bilal was more dynamic than the former and less mannered than the latter. 1st Born Second carried an energy that neither one of those singers, as hot as they were at the time, could boast.

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Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Chris May


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 ...

237
Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Abe Pollack


Many young jazz musicians are no strangers to pop music. More familiar with Radiohead's Kid A and Public Enemy than Jerome Kern or Cole Porter, they have become increasingly more adventurous in an attempt to make jazz a commodity for the 21st Century. Unlike glossy pop covers from the '80s, Robert Glasper uses subtlety to explore late-20th Century music. This is no surprise. Having performed with Q-Tip, Bilal and Meshell Ndegeocello, Glasper finds comfort and room to ...

269
Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Mark F. Turner


In addition to unveiling gems from the past like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk's At Carnegie Hall, Blue Note continues to spotlight the musicians of present with recordings like Robert Glasper's Canvas. Similar to Jason Moran, Jacky Terrasson, and Bill Charlap, who also record for Blue Note, Glasper has the vision and ability to create a fresh statement within the jazz piano idiom. Following on the heels of his well received 2004 debut, Mood, this recording continues to reveal his ...

192
Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Paul Olson


Houston-raised, New York-based pianist Robert Glasper's Blue Note debut is only his second CD as a leader, but one would be hard pressed to find a single argument against his being ready for the big-time jazz limelight. The 67 minutes of music on Canvas are packed with richly memorable compositions, virtuosic playing, unassumingly exotic harmony and superlative group interplay. It's the most startlingly fine debut on Blue Note in quite a while.This is, for the most part, a ...

171
Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Jim Santella


As the paintbrush of modern mainstream jazz takes broader strokes across the canvas of contemporary music, Robert Glasper folds elements from several areas into his art. And that's what makes his performances so interesting.

His first album, Mood (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2004), introduced the pianist as an eclectic artist who takes jazz and blues to heart. The 26-year-old Houston native has made numerous connections in contemporary music circles, and has worked in different modes.

Canvas, however, places ...

160
Album Review

Robert Glasper: Canvas

Read "Canvas" reviewed by Chris May


Hallelujah! Another exciting young pianist emerges to take the classic piano trio tradition forward. This is Robert Glasper's second album--the first was Mood (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2003)--and at just 26, he is already cooking.

The marketing thrust which accompanies this album makes much of Glasper's supposed membership of the hip-hop massive. Truth is, he's got the locks, and he's the right age, but his music is firmly--gloriously--in the Tyner/Hancock/Jarrett tradition: harmonically and melodically rich, rhythmically virile, and ...

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Event

Bilal Announces Two Shows At Harlem Stage On March 27

Bilal Announces Two Shows At Harlem Stage On March 27

Source: Matt Gross

Forever pushing boundaries with his eclectic sound, Grammy-nominated artist and transcendent live performer Bilal returns to Harlem Stage to present new music from his exciting collaboration with Adrian Younge, a producer/composer/musician, heralded as “the next generation of soul music." A classically trained vocal veteran, Bilal released his debut album, 1st Born Second, in 2001, which boasted the popular single “Soul Sista.” Although the follow-up, Love for Sale (2006), was shelved, it later leaked online, receiving praise from fans and music ...

1

Music Industry

Aloe Blacc, Bilal, Chris Turner, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Berklee Neo-soul Ensemble & Contemporary Symphony Orchestra Perform Tribute To Storied Marvin Gaye Album Dec. 4

Source: Berklee Media Relations

Berklee's 2014-15 Signature Music Series continues as Berklee and Revive Music present the first live performance of Marvin Gaye's storied album, Vulnerable, on December 4. The concert features special guest Aloe Blacc, who co-wrote and sang on Avicii's chart-topping single “Wake Me Up," and whose current album, Lift Your Spirit, includes the hit song “I'm the Man." The all-star lineup also includes Bilal, a genre-bedning R&B/jazz vocalist who has collaborated with Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Common; funk/soul crooner Chris Turner, who ...

Event

Bilal "A Love Surreal" CD Release, Tuesday, February 12 At Highline Ballroom

Bilal "A Love Surreal" CD Release, Tuesday, February 12 At Highline Ballroom

Source: Carolyn McClair Public Relations

BILAL “A Love Surreal" CD Release Produced By Jill Newman Productions Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Highline Ballroom, 431 W.16 Street, NYC, (212) 414-5994 Showtime @ 9:00 PM, Doors open @ 7:00 PM Tickets $25 in advance, $30 day of show BIO Bilal Oliver was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Coming from what he describes as a “regular kind of neighborhood”, Bilal was first introduced to music when he attended a small local church. The congregation, made up of mostly ...

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Event

Jill Newman Productions Presents Sly & the Family Stone, Jimmy Scott, Bilal, Derrick Hodge and Others

Jill Newman Productions Presents Sly & the Family Stone, Jimmy Scott, Bilal, Derrick Hodge and Others

Source: All About Jazz

JILL NEWMAN PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS EXCITING CALENDAR OF EVENTS including SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, JIMMY SCOTT BILAL, DERRICK HODGE & OTHERS NEW YORK, NY, October 29, 2007 - Jill Newman Productions, renowned across the nation for high-quality, diverse music productions, announces an exciting calendar of events, including the UNITED STATES PREMIERE OF THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, Jimmy Scott, Bilal, Derrick Hodge and others. Calendar of Events: WORLD PREMIERE OF ...

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Performance / Tour

Bilal Dec. 9-10 a the Iridium Jazz Club

Bilal Dec. 9-10 a the Iridium Jazz Club

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB 1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st) NEW YORK, NY 10023 RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121 8:30 & 10:30PM, Fri. & Sat. 3rd Sets AT MIDNIGHT NEW LISTING Dec. 9-10 BILAL-vocal with CHRIS DAVE-drums & TBA-piano NO 3RD SET SATURDAY There once was a time the elders and the sanctified, when walking through a sacred place, held one hand up, and on that one raised hand, pointed their ...

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Event

Cassandra Wilson, Stephanie Mills, Rahsaan Patterson, Bilal, Mark Cohn, And Yerba Buena Featuring Andre Levin Set To Join Meshell Ndegeocello For GMHC'S "You Rock My Soul", An Aids Benefit Concert

Cassandra Wilson, Stephanie Mills, Rahsaan Patterson, Bilal, Mark Cohn, And Yerba Buena Featuring Andre Levin Set To Join Meshell Ndegeocello For GMHC'S "You Rock My Soul", An Aids Benefit Concert

Source: All About Jazz

Carnegie Hall, November 11th.

Tony Award Winner, Heather Headley, To Perform At Exclusive Post-Concert Reception At Club Guastavinos.

Critically acclaimed musician and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello will be joined on stage by Cassandra Wilson, Stephanie Mills, Rahsaan Patterson, Bilal, Mark Cohn and Yerba Buena featuring Andre Levin for You Rock My Soul, in a star-studded gala event at New York's Carnegie Hall on November 11th (7:30pm-9:30pm) benefiting Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).

Meshell Ndegeocello, who plays double duty as musical director ...

Aaron Parnell Brown
guitar and vocals

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Concerts

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Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Canvas

Blue Note Records
2019

buy

A Love Surreal

Unknown label
2013

buy

Airtight’s Revenge

Unknown label
2010

buy

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