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ROBERT GLASPER's MARVELOUS CONTEMPORARY MUSIC EXPERIMENT
on 29 October 2013
Five POTENT Stars! Beautiful, swinging, smooth, vocal R&B music with a modal jazz underpinning. Robert Glasper is the award-winning pianist, composer, leader, and producer who is not just crossing over from jazz to other forms of contemporary music, he's pulling down walls by blending jazz, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and beyond, creating a form of music probably more at home on 'quiet storm' radio stations than jazz stations (for the time being). On his groundbreaking, Grammy-winning Black Radio, he raised the stakes of the preceding Double Booked, which had 6 tracks played by his jazz trio and 6 tracks of hip-hop played by his Black Radio Experiment group, to a complete recording of this transformative new music. He continues this trend with a complete recording of R&B-influenced performances on Black Radio 2. In his DownBeat magazine cover story on this new music, he thought about bringing in lesser known artists for the second Black Radio recording. Instead he has brought in some of the 'cream of the crop' of urban contemporary music, who are very much at ease in Glasper's musical world and vice versa: Macy Grey, Common, Jill Scott, Faith Evans, Marsha Ambrosius, Brandy, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, and Norah Jones, among many others.
The entire 16 track recording is uniformly excellent with songs flowing from one song to the next, creating a beautiful mellow laid-back sonic effect. My favorites begin with the uplifting performance of "You're My Everything" featuring Bilal and Jazmine Sullivan and the gospel-flavored piano enhancing a declarative rap by Common on "I Stand Alone". "Big Girl Body' featuring Eric Roberson has a beautiful background musical theme but with some chilling predictive environmental words. Then there is the heartfelt uptempo "Let It Ride" with a multi-tracked Norah Jones; the sole 'cover' of this recording is an updated auto-tuned vocal version of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day"; Macy Gray and Jean Grae join forces on "I Don't Even Care"; Snopp Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, and Luke James are wonderful on the positive rap "Persevere"; there is a towering performance of "Yet To Find" by Anthony Hamilton; "Jesus Children" features Lalah Hathaway and Malcolm Jamal Warner's inspiring words, and finally there is the 'flo-etry' of Marsha Ambrosius on a mesmerizing "Trust". In all, this is another major step by Robert Glasper, his Experiment band, and musical guests in adding to his potent personal take on the urban contemporary music experience on this more R&B-flavored performance and it is a complete, very enjoyable success. Highly Recommended! Five COMPELLING Stars! (16 tracks; 77 minutes: 51secs)