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CULTURE
Robert Glasper: In My Element
by Ami Kealoha
on 09 April 2007
robertglasper.jpg

Artists as disparate as Radiohead and Dilla don’t often have the mutual and well-deserved honor of sharing writing credits on the same album, let alone on a jazz piano trio release like In My Element. It's taken an adventurous and intuitive musician, 27-year-old pianist/composer Robert Glasper, to reinvent the Jazz tradition of reworking pop standards by using source material not from the first half of the 20th century on In My Element

While the choices of “new standards” on this release (Glasper’s second on Blue Note) are notably diverse, his original compositions—which make up the bulk of the album—are equally far-reaching. In addition to gospel, pop, ballads, and the manifold Jazz palette, Glasper’s writing and arranging clearly draws from hip-hop. More specifically, it references the innovative rhythmic feel of J-Dilla, whose recent death and music legacy has profoundly affected contemporary musicians of all stripes. At the same time, the influence here is subtle, and the overall aesthetic or “sound” is distinctly in the jazz piano trio tradition.

One song, “Tribute,” features a recorded excerpt from Glasper’s mother’s eulogy, which centers around the idea that it is not her birth or death that matter but the dash in between, her life that she lived to its fullest. This becomes a good analogy for Glasper’s work, which lives beautifully in the many “dashes” he traverses. Between Radiohead and Dilla, traditional and experimental, live and programmed, old and new, dash dash dash…Pick it up from Amazon or iTunes.

by DJ Scribe

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