SXSW Music Interview: Robert Glasper
"Jazz musicians, we feel the need to always educate people.”
Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Robert Glasper plays his music, his way. Whether the Houston native strips down into acoustic sets for the Robert Glasper Trio, or zips his multi-soul/hip-hop/jazz fusion outfit the Robert Glasper Experiment through Radiohead and David Bowie, the keyboardist brings laser focus to a broad spectrum of air fluctuations.
"I got into hip-hop, but I still had appreciation for all types of music, so I was trained to have an open mind and to always go with the flow," explains Glasper. "Then I got into jazz and peeped people like Miles Davis and Herbie [Hancock], who started off in their jazz positions, but didn't stop there.
"They just kept going. They were always current."
Paying homage to the aforementioned trumpet deity, Glasper put out Everything’s Beautiful in 2016, a variegated tribute of remixes and reinterpretations featuring Stevie Wonder, Bilal, and rapper/singer Phonte. He also released ArtScience via his RGE, pulling from trap, Nineties R&B, and Eighties funk.
"None of the jazz greats made music for the purpose of you going to check out music before them," he says of his musical weaves. "Michael Jackson didn't make music so you could go check out Sam Cooke. But jazz musicians, we feel the need to always educate people. If you look on the jazz charts right now, I guarantee you, three out of the top five artists on the charts are dead."
Glasper's on a roll now.
"We're the only ones that have that issue, and that's because we keep worrying about trying to educate people. I'm always competing with Miles, always competing with [John] Coltrane. I'm always competing with these guys.
"Chris Brown has never had to compete with Marvin Gaye – not once."