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on 6 January 2014
The evolution of Robert Glasper and his colleagues as the 'Robert Glasper Experiment' continues apace with the release of 'Black Radio 2', accompanied by, and written in conjunction with, a host of guest appearances guaranteed to whet the appetite of every lover of contemporary black soul music, including Jill Scott (thankfully included this time!), Faith Evans, Dwele, Brandy, Lalah Hathaway, Bilal and Jazmine Sullivan. The first volume was explicitly referenced, through an accompanying liner note essay, as an attempt to fuse disparate elements from within the 'black' musical tradition and to locate Jazz as part of this wider musical discourse. The result was a was a critical and commercial success, quickly leading to the release in late 2012 of 'Black Radio Recovered: The Remixes' (Blue Note).

The album opens with 'Baby Tonight' (Black Radio 2 Theme), a short vocoder infused entry reminiscent of the late 1970s fusion style of Herbie Hancock, segueing in to 'Mic Check 2', bringing together short vocal interjections by the artists featured on the album. 'I Stand Alone' (featuring Common and Patrick Stump) is a composition clearly designed to stand as a call to black consciousness, attempting to link the African American experience to a deeper, trans-historical narrative of African creativity and identity. Replete with uplifting piano sketching, Common takes up the call in a typically mono-toned performance, whilst referencing Louis Farrakhan. The difficulties in positing and articulating a black musical exceptionalism is captured by the inclusion of a spoken word dialogue (for which the music fades down), citing the '[...] irresistible appeal of black individuality' whilst bemoaning a general lack of creative originality except for the efforts of artists obsessed with excellence. A song under 5 minutes is not likely to allow sufficient space for the complexities of such a discourse to be explored! Brandy delivers a vocally assured 'What Are We Doing', before Jill Scott takes centre stage for 'Calls'. Scott remains one of the most talented female singers of her generation, and her performance is typical of her style, exhibiting her ability to effortlessly weave between varied emotional shadings. Dwele's 'Worries' continues the low key groove, whilst the UK's very own Marsha Ambrosius (formerly of 'Floetry') features on 'Trust', providing a substantial emotional and musical core to the album.

Other sure footed performances are provided by Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans and Eric Roberson, whilst Norah Jones features on the 'Drum & Bass' influenced 'Let It Ride', driven by exceptionally frenetic and skilled playing in the reprise. Two covers are provided by way of Stevie Wonder's 'Jesus Children' and Bill Withers' 'Lovely Day'.

So do you buy?

Fans of 'Black Radio' will find 'Black Radio 2' continuing a familiar musical narrative, the album remains rooted in a low to mid tempo groove throughout (except for 'Let It Ride'). The musicianship is, as might be expected, of a very high standard, and this is clearly important to the group's identity - the liner notes stating clearly that '[...] there are no programmed loops on this album. Everything you hear was played live'. Yet even given this excellence in performance, and the stellar guest list, as a listening experience something remains awry, a sense heightened by the self-conscious claims of the work to artistic excellence as a musical work of art. Judged by such terms the results are mixed, hampered by a lack of stylistic variety, and the familiarity of the musical ground covered. Clearly this is a group producing work of serious intent, aware of their wider musical heritage and possibly frustrated by the musical fare that is often accorded the labels 'Black music' or 'Urban', with all the stereotypes and inanity that can be found so easily. Set in this context 'Black Radio 2' is a welcome respite, but it does not offer anything substantially new when compared to the wider traditions it wishes to reference and apparently build and expand upon ('Drum & Bass' meeting 'Jazz' - see Herbie Hancock or Roni Size for better examples).

This is a group still learning and growing, and undoubtedly there is greater (and more original work) to be expected in the future. For the moment, despite the flaws, listeners should simply enjoy the ride.

7/10
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on 28 December 2013
I bought Black Radio and loved every track and adore Robert Glasper's version of Teen Spirit. Black Radio 2 is an equally impressive album. On the surface, Robert Glasper's compositions are a blend of jazz, RnB, gospel, blues and rock but there is much more going on. I also detect classical and baroque. This album would appeal to jazz and neo-soul fans, particularly as many of the singers are from the neo-soul tradition. For me, black music doesn't get much better than this. Every time I listen to Black Radio and Black Radio 2, I can't help but smile. Glasper is a musical genius.
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on 29 January 2014
I have to say this album definitely lacks a certain quality the first exuded. I mainly bought this album due to hearing the Nora Jones collaboration and instantly wanted to have it. Being someone whom doesn't believe in buying singles or downloads so much I opted for the album. All in all there are maybe 3 I like out of the entire album. A lot of the songs do merge into one and although "Worries", "Somebody Else" and "Let it Ride" are classy songs generally the first album beats this in my opinion.
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on 4 January 2018
Couldn't wait to collect this album from the Amazon Locker after work today. Wonderful album and some of the best music out there. Not a jazz musician but Robert Glasper's way with chords and melody has always been truly awe-inspiring and magical. Both Black Radio's are just as good no comparison! A bit disappointed the CD casing was damaged though upon arrival Amazon...
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on 18 April 2014
i honestly thought they couldn't out the first album - Black Radio - robert's approach to chords just gives me the high and derrick well, what can i say about derrick...... buy his album as well!!! casey makes me blush, and mark is a beast!!!! i can listen to them all day, all night, all week. Whatever they touch.......... out of this world. i wish i could give like ten stars because they have re-defined what jazz should mean to our generation, rather than alienating the popular music and artistes of today, they have brought them together in such a way that makes you appreciate the original because you can see it in a much much, dare a i say it, imaginative and creative light. who ever thought Norah Jones could sing over drum and base, i went out to get all her other albums after i heard her voice in a way i had never heard before. well done guys and anyone who really believes in jazz, new and old, you gotta get one not just for you, but for your friends, "frenemies", enemies and obviously, haters.
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on 12 October 2017
Pleased with product and service
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on 11 October 2016
Great contemporary jazzy soul sound and his best recording. Main limitation: Glasper is not really a songwriter
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on 1 February 2018
Very good album
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on 26 December 2014
If you like jazz feel mixed up with contemporary and modern music, this album would fit you. Bunch of guests featuring on the album, great melodies, huge tune and awesome spirit. I've been into Robert Glasper for a while and I must say that everything he has made thus far was at least a notable release. There's no weak point of the album, I think. and I sort of like every single song, I am able to listen to Black Radio on repeat all day long and it doesn't get old.
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on 19 August 2017
Great album and great service
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