Robert Glasper is probably the greatest jazz pianist of the early 21st century, and this record deservedly scooped the award for Jazz Album of the Year at Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards 2010.
The album starts off quite strait-laced, as Glasper plays more classic sounding jazz riffs with an acoustic jazz trio. Still, there's plenty of improvisation here, yet it's all held together by rich riffs and motifs.
The second half, prefaced by a brief answerphone message, is much more experimental. Glasper goes electric here, and there are elements of hip hop (Mos Def performs vocals on "4eva").
It's like jumping from Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" straight into his legendary "Headhunters" album.
This second half, not that the first half is bad by any stretch of the imagination, is what makes the album a truly great one for me. Glasper is here taking the boundaries of jazz and pushing them, as Hancock did with Headhunters. There are a lot of vocals, and it's the vocal side of the record that draws it close to some of the great electronic acts - there are certainly sniffs of Kraftwerk, or more modern boundary breakers like Dam-Funk.
Still, I've never heard anything like the second half of this record anywhere else. The way Glasper puts everything together is the work of a master, and this will undoubtedly be recognised as one of the great jazz albums of all time in the not so distant future...the Gilles Peterson award is just the first step on the road to that acknowledgement.