Why Robert Glasper is a genius of modern jazz

As a fan of classic American jazz grown on Coltrane, Blakey and Davis rarely did You Tube do me a favor by helping me finding the real music gems in ‚Next’ list. Not this time: when I saw the link to Robert Glasper’s – ‚So Beautiful’ (Columbia Studio Recording) I had to click it to find anamazing blend of notes. What was so special about it?

Having seen a couple of video productions filmed in Columbia Studio Recording – I knew that only the best musicians have the privilege to perform there. Personally, I really like the combination of semi-live’ footage where you can see how musicians put themselves into creative trance – when you see their mimics, playing technique and emotions they are going trough while recording. This way I can truly feel music really working on all of my senses. 

At first, Robert Glasper’s performance struck me with black and white picture, which these days seems to be less popular in videos. Secondly, by the subtitles of the first tones of ‘So Beautiful’ – monochromatic picture turned out to be a great supplement to music. Music which Robert Glasper tailored with his band in a very refreshing and innovative way. I hardly find musicians of younger generation who could lead piano music itself with such a maturity and toned, super harmonious drums. Adding to it a very well synched, groovy contrabass and we have a super instrumental story we are listening to with butterflies in our stomach. 

Glasper’s piano play is mellow, his stocky hands produce subtle chords and by the faces of group members, you can tell that music brings them nothing but ecstatic pleasure. ‘So Beautiful’ is packed with perfectly tailored emotions that put you in the moment of this composition – you feel like you want to be listening to this song here, and now. There is no rush and you feel like going trough every tone with maximum of focus and suspension. It’s dynamic and it’s touchy. 

There is a good reason to compare Glasper to Keith Jarret or Herbie Hancock (with whom he had played) – student reached teachers’ level by experimental structure of the compositions he plays and creative improvisations (there are so many which we would call chaotic). Robert Glasper knows how and where he wants to lead his audience to. The performance ends after 7 minutes and 15 seconds leaving me thrilled, so does the young audience in the studio. 

I am so much taken by Glasper’s style that 2 months later I am seeing him in concert @City Winery, NYC. I feel an urge to explore his artwork in depth, live and this is the power of genius and it’s not about the 3 Grammys he had already won. His music strikes you and you have to follow this influential vibe no matter what. As to the very performance, sometimes it gets funny with his corny jokes but the seriousness of the maestro’s mastership is over the public. I appreciate the band, drummer’s intense involvement in the show as if it was a sermon, but mr DJ seems to be overwhelming. I like experiments, I like the background message (Mandela speech) but It’s just too much of electronics that irritates my senses after a while. I appreciate though that musicians’ experimental audacity. And all in all I know that in the long term The Robert Glasper Experiment Group is one of the most vital music units that take modern jazz to the next level without any regrets.

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