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Robert Glasper Experiment

Black Radio (Blue Note)

Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., March 16, 2012

SXSW 2012 Records

Robert Glasper Experiment

Black Radio (Blue Note)

Houston-born pianist Bob Glasper is well-grounded in both jazz and hip-hop, having worked with Mos Def, Roy Hargrove, Q-Tip, Terence Blanchard, Maxwell, and more. While this experiment tries to transcend the boundaries of genre, ears attuned to the jazz world of Blue Note Records will find the music largely ensconced in the hip-hop/R&B side of the spectrum, with a roster of guests including Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Lupe Fiasco. Nonetheless, Glasper's formidable jazz chops are the album's constant attribute. Sometimes, he floats as a delicate mist (around the vocals of Erykah Badu on Mongo Santamaria's enduring "Afro Blue.") At other points, he's a guiding light, riding the beat ("Why Do We Try.") Not afraid to tackle the rock canon, Glasper lends delicate but probing pianism and an agile arranger's touch to both David Bowie's "Letter to Hermione" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." (Thu., 10:30pm, Elephant Room)

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