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Get Up With: Robert Glasper's Piano

by Seth Colter Walls

Get Up With: Robert Glasper's Piano


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Since appearing on the scene in 2004 with the trio album Mood, Robert Glasper has consistently turned heads, whether he's playing acoustic piano or keyboards. And even before his sequence of pop-crossover Black Radio albums (two proper records so far, plus a remix EP), Glasper had often nodded hard at contemporary pop, while filtering its sounds down into his jazz sensibility.

Glasper titled an acoustic composition "J Dillalude" in 2007, hinting at the ways Dilla's productions have influenced his own. (That album, In My Element, also included a medley cover of Herbie Hancock and Radiohead, on the cut "Maiden Voyage/Everything in Its Right Place.") And on his ambitious 2009 album Double Booked, Glasper presented both of his bands -- an acoustic trio and his electrified "Experiment" ensemble -- on back-to-back discs, emulating a busy night during which he might play two kinds of shows, in different venues.

Yet are Glasper's multiple musical selves all that different? You can hear hip-hop fills percolating up inside the Glasper trio's take on Monk's "Think of One." Likewise, the Experiment's jammy electro-opus "Festival" has plenty of post-bop touches in it, too. Though Blue Note records likes to be very clear in its marketing of Glasper's pop collaborations with the likes of Brandy, Erykah Badu and Snoop Dogg, for maximum enjoyment of Glasper's art, we suggest mixing all of the music together. His latest, Black Radio 2, contains great new R&B collaborations with Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton; older records, such as Canvas, also hold hard-swinging music. So click play on our two-hour mix, and get ready to experience every side of Glasper's beat-smart aesthetic.

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