December 8, 2010. Posted by WBGO.
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.
- "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
© 2010 WBGO
November 23, 2010. Posted by Simon Rentner.
"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
© 2010 WBGO
November 23, 2010. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Millions of listeners know James Moody, even if they don't know him by name. He composed one of the most enduring songs in American music, "Moody's Mood for Love," and he did it with on-the-spot improvisation. Even Aretha Franklin sang it. He's made an unforgettable film appearance, walking an invisible dog in Clint Eastwood's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. He splashes more cologne than any one person should use, yet his kiss-on-both-cheeks greeting is treasured for its sincerity, even if the scent marks the recipient for the rest of the day.
Moody is one of bebop's finest practitioners, and he's made tremendous music for more than 60 years. As a partially deaf child in Newark, N.J., he battled the perception that he was mentally retarded (to use the term of the day). As a member of a segregated Air Force band, he suffered the indignity of racism in 1940s America. He battled an addiction to alcohol.
Yet there's no one with a sunnier disposition than James Moody, an indomitable spirit in jazz music. He's one of this country's great treasures, and the spirit of jazz is better for having him as one of the music's leading lights. Hear a handful of great Moody recordings here, but be sure to explore further. There's plenty more.
Note: James Moody has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he has decided against continued treatment. He is convalescing in his California home. If you'd like to send him a note, please contact him here.Read more
© 2010 WBGO