Pianist/composer and Blue Note recording artist Robert Glasper, whose musical idioms encompass jazz, hip-hop and rhythm and blues, will discuss his career and creative process with Patrick Douthit, aka 9th Wonder, a hiphop record producer, record executive, DJ, lecturer and rapper who is currently a fellow at Harvard’s Hiphop Archive at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Following the discussion, Glasper will lead a clinic with Harvard student musicians. Presented by Learning From Performers and the Hiphop Archive at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, with generous support from Red Bull.
Robert Glasper has long kept one foot planted firmly in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B. He’s worked extensively with Q-Tip, playing keyboards on the rapper’s 2008 album “The Renaissance” and co-writing the album single “Life Is Better,” which featured his Blue Note label mate Norah Jones. Glasper also serves as the music director in yasiin bey’s touring band, and has toured with the multi-platinum R&B singer Maxwell.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that “it’s a short list of jazz pianists who have the wherewithal to drop a J Dilla reference into a Thelonious Monk cover, but not many jazz pianists are Robert Glasper,” adding “He’s equally comfortable in the worlds of hip-hop and jazz,” and praising the organic way in which he “builds a bridge between his two musical touchstones.”
Glasper drove that point home with his last album, 2009’s “Double-Booked,” which was split neatly in half. The first part featured his acoustic trio, which had gathered a great deal of acclaim in the jazz world and beyond over the course of two previous Blue Note albums (2005’s “Canvas” and 2007’s “In My Element”). The second part featured his electric Experiment band and hinted at things to come, even earning the keyboardist his first GRAMMY nomination for “All Matter,” a collaboration with the singer Bilal that was among the contenders in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category in 2010.
With his latest release, “Black Radio,” the Experiment band has fully arrived. Featuring Glasper on piano and Fender Rhodes, Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Chris Dave on drums, the band is plugged in and open source. Each of the band members is prodigiously talented and lives naturally in multiple musical worlds, distilling countless influences into a singular voice. “That’s what makes this band unique,” says Glasper. “We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it!”
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