February 13, 2012

V4YS Album Review - Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio (Blue Note)

Don't change channel, you're on the right frequency, this is Black Radio !

Robert Glasper (piano, Rhodes), Chris Dave (drums), Derrick Hodge (bass) & Casey Benjamin (sax, vocoder) are your hosts. Get ready for a sensory trip towards a fantasy world made up of jazz, nu-soul and hip-hop.
On their station, no commercials, only great sounds through a flurry of magical encounters between some of the hottest voices of the current R&B/Nu-Soul scene and the legacy of several legendary artists, supervised by the benevolent and indispensable influence of Jay Dilla.

Robert Glasper, New Morning, 2011, photo Vincent B.
For his 4th LP (the second one with his "groove" side called Experiment) Robert Glasper yielded to all his envies, notably adding the last missing piece of his previous musical puzzles : vocals.
Having recorded, toured and written for a wide range of singers these last few years while pursuing his own career, it's now his turn to be the conductor and invite an impressive line-up of well-known voices (Erykah Badu, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Musiq Soulchild, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def...) as well as promessing up-and-coming artists (trio King, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Stokey Williams...).

Derrick Hodge, N Morning, 2011, pic Vincent B.
The album is almost evenly split between new tracks and covers of tracks from the likes of Coltrane, Sade, Nirvana, Bowie...
If anyone who has already attended one of their mind-blowing live acts will recognize their vododer-flavored cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, they will surely discover with excitement their version of Coltrane's Afro-Blue, Sade's classic Cherish The Day or an overlooked song from David Bowie, Letter To Hermione, turned into a splendid nu-jazz balad made for love...

Next to the brillant writing and succesful direction of the many vocalists, the band also impresses with his orchestration and musical arrangements.
Glasper's piano play is at its best, alternating sweet liquid melodies and short samples-like phrasings bringing this undefinable groove to the flow.

Chris Dave, New Morning, 2011, pic Vincent B.
But the Experiment is not only about the pianist after who it is named, we're talking about a true band where Casey Benjamin, Derrick Hodge and Chris Dave's talent, class and delicacy are a
decisive factor in the project's unique sound signature.
"Daddy" Dave's drumming, for instance, is once again mind-blowing, confirming he currently is one of the most fascinating jazz/hip-hop drummer around. Anyone doubting that assertion should for instance focus on the crazy ryhmic line on Why Do We Try where rythms & counter-rythms keep swirling around in an endless carnival.

Casey Benjamin, N Morning, 2011, pic Vincent B.

Record after record, Robert Glasper and his crew keep erasing what's left of the frontiers supposedly separating the worlds of Jazz and Nu-Soul.
Black Radio, that will be released on February 28th on Blue Note,  clearly is their most accomplised effort to date. An essential album, as should be the tour starting now and that will visit Paris next April !

Below a couple of extracts, Letter To Hermione (David Bowie cover feat. Bilal) & Cherish The Day (Sade cover feat. Lalah Hathaway).

You can also find all of our Robert Glasper & crew reviews, pictures and videos here !

Retrouvez cette review en français sur le site WeGoFunk !

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