Thursday, May 11, 2017

ROBERT GLASPER Covered (The Robert Glasper Trio Recorded Live at Capitol Studios) 2LP (BLUE NOTE)

Can't believe I'm sinking deep into an exquisite, moody, delicate/heavy piano trio record on Blue Note, and not only was it recorded AFTER (not before) 1960, it was in fact recorded in December 2014. That's right, I'm actually listening to brand new relatively non-avant jazz music. I've known about Mr. Glasper for awhile, that he was a young jazz pianist who was revitalizing the genre by bringing in straight-up hip-hop and R&B (his music heavily influenced by Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett but also Q-Tip and J. Dilla). However, I didn't start listening to his records until just this week when I happened across this charming appearance on Amoeba's What's In My Bag? series, in which he boldly (and literally) sings the praises of Kenny G. From there I started going through the related videos and sampling a bunch of his albums, such as the Grammy-winning and totally-deserving-of-it 2012 release Black Radio, which is some kind of jazzy hip-hop neo-soul modern masterpiece, each song with a different guest vocalist, really some beautiful stuff. (The 2013 sequel Black Radio 2 seems just as good, really loving the song "Calls" featuring Jill Scott.) But, the record I've got on the turntable right now, and the subject of this record review as referenced in its opening sentence, is the Covered double LP, recorded live at Capitol Studios, and filmed as well, so you can listen to it, you can watch it on your TV with popcorn, you can put it on some sort of streaming service and take a bath by candle light, or you can get the vinyl and flip it all the time like I do. Either way, this is beautiful music, played by top-notch jazz musicians on piano (Glasper), bass (Vicente Archer), and drums (Diamond Reid). Reid is particularly impressive, for example the next-level beat on "I Don't Even Care," some kind of high-speed drum&bass Amen-break vibe. It isn't even immediately apparent that this is a covers album (though the album title does give pause); "Barandgrill" was the first track that seemed to ring some far-off bell, and even after learning from the YouTube comments that it was a Joni Mitchell song, I still didn't realize the rest were covers too until really digging "So Beautiful," which I assumed to be a Glasper original, or maybe even a group improvisation, but upon research turned out be a cover of a sweet 2009 R&B song by someone called Musiq Soulchild. At this point I started to catch on, and have since learned that other sources are Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Bilal, Macy Grey, Radiohead, and someone called Jhene Aiko, but above all it sounds like a really nice haunting lush and atmospheric Blue Note piano trio jazz album.

POSTSCRIPT: A few more acoustic piano trio favorites: Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach Money JungleBill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard (with the great Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian); this all-time great beauty of a track by Alice Coltrane, Ron Carter, and Ben Riley called "Turiya and Ramakrishna"Lowell Davidson Trio self-titled (with Gary Peacock and Milford Graves!); Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette Changeless (ECM); Ahmad Jamal Trio At the Pershing (with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier), and, THIS JUST IN, on my morning drive to take my kids to school the tradition is to listen to the morning jazz shows on WNUR, and this week they played a track called "Redwoods" by the Eri Yamamoto Trio, which was released in 2008 on the long-heavy Aum Fidelity label.

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