Robert Glasper Experiment

Black Radio

Blue Note • 2012

There was a time when Jazz was nothing more to me than Will Smith’s neighbour – with the same joke going over and over again. I must have been about five or six at that time. A few years later I realised that Jazz, of course, is much more than that. And another couple of years after that I was overcome with disappointment, realising that also this kind of Jazz would come up with the same jokes over and over again, if it weren’t for people like Robert Glasper. Instead of attending on elitist expectations of most listeners, the american piano player serves very different receptors. He was never shy to use Soul and Hip Hop, so »Black Radio« is just the sensible consequence of his being bored with today’s Jazz. He invited strong features like Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco or yasiin bey into his studio who help him sketch the outlines of contemporary black music. The Experiment Band is responsible for the continuously relaxed flow and produces a solid musical background for singer Ledisi. It’s not surprising that someone like Miss Badu feels completely at ease in such a context. Glaspers piano sounds stay attached to the melody throughout the whole disc, and still, his play caters for more depth in the songs. His version of »Smells Like Teen Spirit«, though, is completely off the atmosphere of the rest on »Black Radio«. Even after having listened to it for several times, a big question mark remains. Nevertheless, this experiment seems too much like basic research for any further drop outs. And one lame joke is pardonable – as long as the rest is so convincing.