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Glasper in 2013
|Born||April 6, 1978|
|Origin||Houston, Texas, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, hip hop, soul, R&B, neo soul|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer–songwriter, record producer, composer, arranger|
|Instruments||Piano, Fender Rhodes, Vocoder|
|Labels||Blue Note, Columbia, Legacy|
|Associated acts||Bilal, Mos Def, Q-Tip, RCDC, J Dilla, Erykah Badu, MF DOOM, Common, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli, Maxwell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, Musiq Soulchild, Stokley Williams, Emeli Sandé, Eric Roberson, Luke James, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Norah Jones, Faith Evans, Anthony Hamilton, Marsha Ambrosius, Dwele, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, Jean Grae, Macy Gray, Brandy, Hindi Zahra, John Scofield, Laura Mvula, Stevie Wonder, Hiatus Kaiyote, Phonte|
|Website||Robert Glasper on Twitter|
Glasper's earliest musical influence was his mother, Kim Yvette Glasper, who sang jazz and blues professionally. She took him with her to club dates rather than leave her son with babysitters. She was the music director at the East Wind Baptist Church, where Glasper first performed in public. He performed during services at three churches: Baptist, Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist. Glasper has said that he first developed his sound in church, where he learned his own way to hear harmony, and was inspired to mix church and gospel harmonies with jazz harmonies.
Glasper attended Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas, and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and went on to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. At the New School, Glasper met neo-soul singer Bilal Oliver. They began performing and recording together, which led to associations with a variety of hip-hop and R&B artists parallel to Glasper's emerging jazz career. He has worked with Bilal and Mos Def as musical director, Q-Tip (The Renaissance), Kanye West (Late Registration), Meshell Ndegeocello (The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams), J Dilla, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Common, Slum Village, and Maxwell, with whom he toured extensively on 2009's BLACKsummers'night tour.
Glasper's first album, Mood, was released by Fresh Sound New Talent in 2004, after the pianist's stints playing in bands with guitarists Russell Malone and Mark Whitfield, bassist Christian McBride, and trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Roy Hargrove. The album features six original compositions by Glasper alongside versions of "Blue Skies", "Alone Together", and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage", featuring guest vocalist Bilal. Glasper has said that his arrangement of the Hancock tune was inspired by the Radiohead song "Everything in Its Right Place".
Blue Note Records released Canvas, Glasper's major-label debut, in 2005. The album features nine original songs and a version of Hancock’s "Riot". Glasper plays the Fender Rhodes on three tracks, and Bilal sings on two. In My Element, released in 2006, includes songs written in honor of Glasper's mother ("Tribute") and hip-hop producer J Dilla ("J Dillalude"). The pianist also revisits Hancock's "Maiden Voyage", which segues into a version of "Everything in Its Right Place", and quotes Duke Ellington’s "Fleurette Africaine".
Glasper's 2009 album Double-Booked is divided between songs performed by Glasper in an acoustic piano trio and funk-influenced tracks played on electric instruments, such as the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the vocoder (used on a version of Hancock's "Butterfly"). The album features voice mail recordings from Blanchard and Roots drummer Questlove, and guest vocals and spoken-word appearances by Bilal and Mos Def. Bilal received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "All Matter".
Glasper has performed at jazz festivals throughout the world, and his trio performed at the 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival as part of Blue Note's "Somethin' Else" jazz tent. In addition to his working trio (Chris Dave, drums; Vicente Archer, bass), he also leads the Robert Glasper Experiment (Derrick Hodge, Mark Colenburg, and Casey Benjamin), in which he explores fusions of jazz and hip hop.
On February 28, 2012, Glasper released Black Radio, which featured performances by many neo-soul and hip hop artists including Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway and Yasiin Bey. This synthesis of hip hop and jazz is supposedly Glasper's attempt to correct what he sees as a lack of new energy in the jazz genre. In the April 2012 issue of Down Beat, Glasper stated: "I've gotten bored with jazz to the point where I wouldn't mind something bad happening. Slapping hurts, but at some point it'll wake you up. I feel like jazz needs a big-ass slap." On November 5, 2012, Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP was released with five remixed tracks from the prior album.
On October 29, 2013, Glasper released Black Radio 2, with Fiasco and Hathaway returning from the prior album (Bilal is featured on a bonus track in the Deluxe Edition). Like the prior album, the band performed with a cross-section of R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop artists, with some tracks having a segue at the end to reprise the prior song or introduce the next track.
On June 16, 2015, The Robert Glasper Trio released the album Covered, which features instrumental covers of songs from an eclectic variety of well-known artists, including Radiohead, John Legend, Kendrick Lamar, and Joni Mitchell. The entire album was recorded live at Capitol Studios in 2014.
Glasper served as musical supervisor, composer, and arranger for the 2015 film Miles Ahead, a biopic documenting the life of legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, whom Glasper cites as being one of his major musical influences. The soundtrack primarily consists of arrangements and interpretations of some of Davis' most well-known compositions, with the exception of a few tunes written by Glasper himself.
In addition, Glasper released Everything's Beautiful on May 27, 2016, marking his first release with Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. The album serves as a tribute to Davis and includes remixes and reinterpretations of several of his original works. Although Davis died in 1991, he is credited as a co-artist of the album. The album includes features from Stevie Wonder, Bilal, Illa J, Erykah Badu, Phonte, Hiatus Kaiyote, Laura Mvula, Georgia Ann Muldrow, Ledisi, and John Scofield.
Glasper's albums are centered around his work as a solo artist, and two bands: The Robert Glasper Trio (on piano Robert Glasper, drummer Damion Reid, and bassist Vicente Archer) as an acoustic jazz trio, and The Robert Glasper Experiment (Glasper, drummer Mark Colenburg, saxophonist/vocoderist Casey Benjamin and bassist Derrick Hodge) as an electronic act that defies genre norms from any single discipline. “That’s what makes this band unique... We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it.” With primary influences in neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and R&B, Glasper also has reinterpreted songs from rock acts Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, and David Bowie. As a jazz artist, Rashod D. Ollison reviewed him after the release of Canvas as "a gifted jazz musician with a brilliant, energetic technique and a fresh, mesmerizing sense of melody and composition".
Glasper claims that the music of Miles Davis has had a significant influence on his style throughout his career as a musician. Both the soundtrack for Miles Ahead and the tribute album Everything's Beautiful are clear indications of this influence.
"I’m obviously influenced by Miles Davis — even just the psyche of how he thinks about music...how he moves through, and always wanted to reflect the times he's in. That's what I'm doing now. He opened that door."
Awards and nominations
|2010||"All Matter" (with Bilal)||Best Urban/Alternative Performance||Nominated|
|2013||Black Radio||Best R&B Album||Won|
|"Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)" (with Ledisi)||Best R&B Performance||Nominated|
|2015||Black Radio 2||Best R&B Album||Nominated|
|"Jesus Children of America" (with Lalah Hathaway & Malcolm-Jamal Warner)||Best Traditional R&B Performance||Won|
- Mood (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2004; recorded 2002)
- Canvas (Blue Note, 2005)
- In My Element (Blue Note, 2007)
- Double-Booked (Blue Note, 2009)
- Black Radio (Blue Note, 2012)
- Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP (Blue Note, 2012)
- Black Radio 2 (Blue Note, Oct. 29, 2013)
- Covered (Blue Note, 2015)
- Everything's Beautiful (with Miles Davis) (Columbia/Legacy, May 27, 2016)
- "Pianist Robert Glasper Straddles Jazz and R&B at Winter Fest". Activate.metroactive.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "Notable Alumni". Newschool.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "To stop jazz's slide into irrelevancy, Robert Glasper is adding different genres to the mix". Nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "ROBERT GLASPER ANNOUNCES DELUXE EDITION OF "BLACK RADIO 2" & iTUNES PRE-ORDER: News: Blue Note Records". Blue Note Records. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- "WINS 2ND GRAMMY; NEW TRIO ALBUM "COVERED" OUT JUNE 16". Robertglasper.com. 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "ROBERT GLASPER/MILES DAVIS: EVERYTHING'S BEAUTIFUL". pitchfork.com. 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "ROBERT GLASPER MINES THE MILES DAVIS ARCHIVE ON THE INSIDE-OUT TRIBUTE 'EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL'". latimes.com. 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "The New Parish - Robert Glasper Experiment". The New Parish. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- "Review of Robert Glasper's Black Radio". BBC. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Ollison, Rashod. "A modern-jazz master". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- Chinen, Nate (2016-05-25). "What Would Miles Davis Do? Robert Glasper Has An Idea". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "Review of Mood". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "All About Jazz Review of Canvas". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "Elegy for Fort Greene". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "Allmusic - Review of Double Booked". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "Robert Glasper, Black Radio – Track-by-Track Review". The Jazz Line. Mersion Media. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "the making of robert glaspers black radio recovered (the remix ep)". Lifeandtimes.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "Exclusive: Robert Glasper's Next Experiment Is a Return to Jazz". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
- "ROBERT GLASPER/MILES DAVIS: EVERYTHING'S BEAUTIFUL". pitchfork.com. 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- Official website
- Robert Glasper performs at NPR Music
- "Progressing Under the Radar with Precision and Daring", New York Times
- "Robert Glasper: The pianist whose jazz is filled with soul", The Telegraph
- In Conversation with Robert Glasper, Jazz.com
- Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Cool Jazz in Harlem, New York The Sun
- Robert Glasper, Jazz Times