Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Robert Glasper: Covered - DownBeat

Robert Glasper

Pianist Robert Glasper ruffled some feathers when he stated in DownBeat a couple of years ago that jazz needed a "big-ass slap." His intentions paid off nicely in the form of a Grammy award and heaps of acclaim later that year. This record is more about the intricacies of the fingertips than the brutality of the open palm.

Recorded live last December in Blue Note's glamorous West Coast offices, the Capitol Records building, the album is a no-frills nod to the purists. The 13-minute "In Case You Forgot" opens with a solo piano intro reminiscent of "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs"-era Chick Corea. Crisp and lightning quick, Glasper doesn't dwell on any notes for long, flicking daggers before being joined by the rest of the trio (drummer Damion Reid and bassist Vicente Archer).

A few months ago in this section, writer Bradley Baumbargner used the phrase "depressingly de rigueur Radiohead cover." Add Glasper to that strange list of those who drank from the well of Thom Yorke. It's a shame that with so many smart and interesting r&b covers, Glasper doesn't look particularly far for a rock song. But he makes amends by covering Kendrick Lamar to close out the affair. "I'm Dying Of Thirst" is an instrumental backdrop to a recording of children reciting the names of black murder victims at the hands of law enforcement. It is a powerful message presented without comment. Glasper isn't done slapping yet.

Robert Glasper @ DownBeat

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