• Robert Glasper: Live at the Village Vanguard

    December 8, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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  • Robert Glasper Trio: Live At The Village Vanguard

    December 8, 2010. Posted by WBGO.

    Robert Glasper. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    The line on Robert Glasper recently is that he's a jazz musician who also works intensely with top hip-hop and R&B artists: Maxwell, Q-Tip, Mos Def and so forth. That narrative came to the fore around the time of his 2009 album Double Booked, which showcased his ability to fuse his distinct aesthetics. But he's still very much a jazz pianist, committed to the improvising community. Glasper is a fount of supple, flowing lines, and his piano trio is a shape-shifting, communicative unit.

    His group certainly passes muster at that New York jazz bastion, the Village Vanguard. WBGO and NPR Music were there to record the Robert Glasper Trio in concert, in a live radio broadcast and simultaneous webcast on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Revisit this page for the live streaming audio and the archived recording.

    Glasper is a ruminative pianist, often letting sostenuto melodies simmer with a few extra grace notes or broken arpeggios for color, probing his way through moody harmonies. In concert, his trio is highly flexible, apt to change directions or follow tangents on a mid-song whim. In his opening tune, he quoted two Christmas songs, and at least one J. Dilla beat. Elsewhere, he dedicated one song to the recently ailing piano giant Mulgrew Miller, took on a late '60s Herbie Hancock tune and crowd-sourced his last number, the original "Yes I'm Country (And That's OK)."

    His concept works because he always picks out musicians who can follow and add feedback effortlessly. Also participating in the gig were Vicente Archer, his longtime associate on bass, and Jamire Williams, who commands a wide percussive vocabulary at a young age.

    Originally, Glasper hails from Houston; he found his way to New York to study music in college. But the first close friend he made was the soul singer Bilal, then a fellow jazz student. So while Glasper was learning straight-ahead jazz, he was also accruing professional opportunities in the world of hip-hop and neo-soul. Prospects have improved for him in both veins since then; when he wasn't promoting Double Booked, his third album for Blue Note Records, he was on the road with the singer Maxwell.

    He may be of two musical worlds, but Glasper commands the highest respect in each. Not all pianists can book a residency at the Village Vanguard, but this broadcast marked his second week at the club this year.

    Set List

    • "G&B" (Glasper)
    • "One For 'Grew" (Glasper)
    • "I Have A Dream" (Hancock)
    • "[Unknown]" (Glasper)
    • "Yes I'm Country (And That's OK)" (Glasper)


    • Robert Glasper, piano
    • Vicente Archer, bass
    • Jamire Williams, drums


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Garrett Nichols, production assistant
    • Simon Rentner, production assistant
    • Michael Downes, production assistant
    • Lara Pellegrinelli, moderator
  • Singers Unlimited 25th Anniversary Party

    November 23, 2010. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Carol Fredette
    "Singers Unlimited" first aired on WBGO in the fall of 1985 -- at 6AM!  It's been mostly 10AM-2PM through the 25 years since then.  I estimate that I've played 60,000 songs on the show through the years and done hundreds of interviews. ( My favorite interview: the great Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim.)  Nobody remembers what date the show actually first aired, but November 21st seemed an ideal date to celebrate with an anniversary party.  We invited members of our Jazz Leadership Society, long-time fund drive volunteers, among other friends, and I played from 10-noon some of my favorite singers, including highlights from live broadcasts on the show , including Joe Williams in the fall of 1987.  Some of my singing friends joined me at noon for a live performance -- Roseanna Vitro, Tom Lellis, Carolyn Leonhart, Carol Fredette, and the first jazz singer I interviewed on WBGO, Bob Dorough. Allen Farnham was the delightful pianist for most of the show, and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery also joined in.   My request of them all was a ballade in the tradition of Jazz at the Philharmonic: each of them singing one chorus of a beautiful standard.  And indeed they did. -- Michael Bourne

    Hour One

    Hour Two