read the news // live the culture

London Jazz Festival – Robert Glasper

  Monday 21st November 2011

The main hall at Kings Place saw suited jazz aficionados next to casually youthful contemporary Londoners. Such a cross section of society probably goes against the preconceptions of a jazz night, but that’s exactly what you get from Robert Glasper, a musician able to straddle jazz, hip-hop and all the worlds in between.

The show started with a burst of slow weaving chords, accompanied by a raft of percussion, each musician rhythmically and instinctively rapping the sides of their instruments, after which the trio sprang through fragments of improvisation and melodies from Glasper’s catalogue. They trio then headed into a number packed with mighty refrains that became bedding for a solo from bassist Derrick Hodge – all of which ran for just over forty minutes.

Robert Glasper at the London Jazz Festival.

Robert Glasper at the London Jazz Festival.

‘Jelly’s da Beaner’ from his second album ‘Canvas’, concluded the first half, an up-tempo number that was later stripped bare for a hypnotising drum solo that mesmerised the crowd as the drummers hands steamed through four minutes of blistering hi-hats and snare licks. A solo that reassured the audience that although Glasper’s usual drumming spectacle Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave wasn’t present, Mark Colenburg had a prowess to deliver. The crowds’ cheers and whoops solidified his claim.

The second act began with a rumbling bass solo that transformed into ‘No Worries’ a track from Glasper’s last album ‘Double-Booked’ which introduced his second outfit, The Robert Glasper Experiment to his listeners (The Experiment also played XOYO the night before). Robert used the arrangement to throw in familiar melodies and hooks from songs by Phil Collins (In The Air Tonight) and rapper Common (Thelonious) in a salute to the late cult hip-hop beatsmith J Dilla.

The hard-hitting boom-baps rolled into a cover of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Butterfly’ but blossomed into his jazz-rock mash up that is ‘Everything in it’s right place/Maiden Voyage’ a song that merges the melodies and arrangements of Radiohead with the sensibilities and textures of Herbie Hancock – an idea that was touched upon on his debut album ‘Mood’ but was fully realised on his third album ‘In My Element.’

He then brought to the stage, multi-instrumentalist Casey Benjamin, who accounts for a quarter of the Robert Glasper Experiment. The quartet then eased into ‘I Have A Dream’, another gem from arguably one of the greatest pianists in jazz history Herbie Hancock. Of course Glasper wouldn’t be Glasper if he didn’t customise his covers, this time opting for an off-kilter hip-hop back-beat, adding a drum machine swing and an air of modernity to his rendition.

Glasper is by far one of he most intriguing pianists today and his creativity is often best displayed during his sparing solos or ivory mumblings between songs, when he is left to explore his ideas and reinterpret not only jazz standards but rock numbers, and his own compositions.

Robert Glasper’s next album ‘Black Radio’ will be released February 2012, and features the talents of soul and rap royalty such as Lupe Fiasco, Common, Mos Def, Chrisette Michele and Erykah Badu.

Kieron Ifill

.

  Log in  

More about the author

avatar

Read more from...

Share this story


  • Pin It
  • Share on Google+
  • Reddit
  • Stumble
  • LinkedIn

Latest articles

London Jazz Festival – Robert Glasper gives Masterclass
London Jazz Festival – Robert Glasper gives Masterclass

“I just want to make great jazz that can be understood by everybody, great songs.” This is what Robert Glasper was [read more]

London Jazz Festival – The Necks at Bishopsgate Institute
London Jazz Festival – The Necks at Bishopsgate Institute

If patience is a virtue, there was a convention of virtuosity in town on Saturday night as one of the finest jazz bands [read more]

London Jazz Festival – Fringe Magnetic at Kings Place
London Jazz Festival – Fringe Magnetic at Kings Place

Skinny ties and button down shirts, scuffed boots and graphic skirts all crowd the stage as a visual mismatch of [read more]

London Jazz Festival – Michael L. Roberts
London Jazz Festival – Michael L. Roberts

The Forge is located along a dark alley tucked away in the heart of Camden. You enter a restaurant and start to [read more]

Archives