The Real Robert Glasper's Birthday Bash
April 7, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I went to Robert Glasper's Third Annual Birthday Bash at Club Drom Saturday night. Make that Sunday morning. Though the show was advertised for an 11:30 hit, the music actually started at 1:15am. No worries. During the downtime, Robert treated the audience to a personally curated playlist of hip hop and party music. All emanating through the club's sound system, and sourced from his iPod.
The core ensemble was the Robert Glasper Experiment - Glasper on Fender Rhodes, Derrick Hodge on his Callowhill 5-string electric bass, Casey Benjamin on alto sax and keytar (with Talk Box mod - imagine Frampton Comes Alive meets Common's "Don't Break My Heart," from Finding Forever), and drummer Chris "Daddy" Dave punching an endless array of beats.
Q-Tip and trumpeter Roy Hargrove joined in on the fun, as did singer Bilal. All of these individuals (and some of the musicians who were just there to check out the show) are part of something very exciting happening in music - the realization of hip hop and jazz coming together in a meaningful way. I can think of many examples of jazz and hip hop intermingling, so don't let me be misunderstood. These two forms have spoken to each other before. However, the current dialogue is spawning a certifiably important sound in music - a nexus of rhymes, beats, and improvisational flow that is socially aware, energetic, and heavy on the soul. And did I mention FUN?
Call it nu-jazz, neo-soul, conscious hip hop, all of the above or none of the above. Or anything you wish. Basically, it's the return of functional music in a commercially saturated culture, a communal act of creation that has its roots in jazz, blues, and spirituals, stretching back to traditional African custom and practice. The Robert Glasper Experiment is all about droppin' the scientific method in a live setting. This kind of music has been underground for a very long time now. But ask any of the well-wishers onstage or in the club, and they will tell you that its time has come.
© 2008 WBGO
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