Robert Glasper

Robert Andre Glasper (born April 6, 1978) is an American pianist, record producer, songwriter and musical arranger with a career that bridges musical and artistic genres. To date, Glasper has won four Grammy Awards and received nine nominations across eight categories. He also won the 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for his song featured in Ava DuVernay’s critically hailed documentary, 13th, with Common and Karriem Riggins.

Robert Glasper
Glasper in 2013
Glasper in 2013
Background information
Birth nameRobert Andre Glasper[1]
Born (1978-04-06) April 6, 1978 (age 43)[2]
OriginHouston, Texas, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Record producer
  • songwriter
  • arranger
  • keyboardist
Instruments
  • Piano
  • fender rhodes
  • keyboard
Years active2003–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websiterobertglasper.com

Glasper's breakout crossover album, Black Radio, won the 2013 Grammy for best R&B album, and following this success he performed on various successful albums, including playing keyboards on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly and winning another Grammy for the track “These Walls”. The ongoing Black Radio series of albums has since become Glasper's calling card, with guests such as Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), Bilal, Ledisi, Lupe Fiasco, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu. Black Radio was the first album in history to debut in the top 10 of 4 different genre charts simultaneously: Hip Hop R&B, Urban Contemporary, Jazz and Contemporary Jazz.[citation needed] The feat was then repeated by Black Radio 2.

Glasper has toured extensively, drawing a large and loyal following globally[citation needed]. He has also been an Artist in Residence at some of the most prestigious festivals and institutions worldwide, including the London Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, The Kennedy Center, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and the Blue Note Jazz Club.

Glasper has written, performed and produced on albums by Mac Miller, Anderson .Paak, Banks, Herbie Hancock, Big K.R.I.T., Brittany Howard, Bilal, Kendrick Lamar, Q-Tip, Common and Talib Kweli amongst others. Glasper has also written successfully for film, winning an Emmy for his song "A Letter To The Free", featured on Ava Duverney's 13th, scoring the Emmy-winning documentary "The Apollo," winning a Grammy for his soundtrack to Miles Ahead and composing the original score for Issa Rae’s The Photograph.

Life and careerEdit

 
Robert Glasper live at Leverkusener Jazztage (Germany) on November 9, 2016

Early lifeEdit

Glasper's earliest musical influence was his mother, Kim Yvette Glasper, who sang jazz and blues professionally. She took him with her to club dates rather than leave her son with babysitters. She was the music director at the East Wind Baptist Church, where Glasper first performed in public.[3] He performed during services at three churches: Baptist, Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist. Glasper has said that he first developed his sound in church, where he learned his own way to hear harmony, and was inspired to mix church and gospel harmonies with jazz harmonies.

Glasper attended Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas, and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In tenth grade he performed with the jazz band at Texas Southern University.[4] He was in the second Vail Jazz Workshop in 1997,[5] and went on to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City.[6] At the New School, Glasper met neo-soul singer Bilal.[7] They began performing and recording together, which led to associations with a variety of hip hop and R&B artists parallel to Glasper's emerging jazz career.

CareerEdit

Glasper's playing career was launched in earnest whilst still studying at The New School in New York when he started touring as a sideman with some of the established greats of the scene (bassist Christian McBride, and trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Roy Hargrove). At the same time, Robert was forging a friendship with his New School-mate Bilal, as well as a musical bond that saw them embedded in a burgeoning hip hop and neo soul movement alongside era-defining artists such as Jill Scott, The Roots and J Dilla - during which time Glasper became music director for Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def).

Glasper released his first album, Mood, in 2002 with Fresh Sound New Talent. Mood features six original compositions alongside versions of the jazz standards including Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage", to which Glasper added a Radiohead-inspired spin.[clarification needed] Primarily a piano trio recording, with Bob Hurst on bass and Damion Reid on drums the album also features vocalist Bilal, and saxophonists Marcus Strickland and John Ellis.

Around this time, Glasper recorded with Bilal at Electric Lady Studios for the singer's unreleased but widely leaked second album, Love for Sale.[8]

In 2005 Glasper released his debut on Blue Note Records, Canvas, with what was to become his quintessential piano trio lineup of Vicente Archer on bass and Damion Reid on drums. The album features nine original compositions alongside a cover of Herbie Hancock's "Riot".

His third album, In My Element, was released in 2007 and includes songs written in honor of Glasper's mother ("Tribute") and hip hop producer J Dilla ("J Dillalude"). The pianist also revisits Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" in what was becoming his signature fusion style; moving between contemporary and classic as it segues into a version of Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place", and quoting Duke Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine".

Glasper's 2009 album Double-Booked is divided between songs performed by Glasper in an acoustic piano trio format, and his groundbreaking electric group, The Experiment, with Derrick Hodge, Casey Benjamin and Chris "Daddy" Dave. The album features guest vocals and spoken-word appearances by Bilal and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def). The track "All Matter", which featured Bilal, received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

In February 2012, Glasper released his 5th and seminal album Black Radio, which featured performances by a line up of neo soul and hip hop artists including Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, Erykah Badu and Yasiin Bey. Black Radio was met with both commercial success (a #10 debut on Billboard's Top Current Albums chart) and critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone declaring that it "feels like a blueprint forward"; and went on to win the 2013 Grammy for best R&B album. In November 2012 Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP was released with five remixed tracks from the prior album, including remixes by Questlove, Solange, Georgia Muldrow, Pete Rock and 9th Wonder.

In October 2013, Glasper released Black Radio 2. The core remained the Robert Glasper Experiment, featuring Robert Glasper on keyboards, Derrick Hodge on bass, Mark Colenburg on drums, and Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone. Guest vocalists included Common, Brandy, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco and Emeli Sandé. Notably, Lalah Hathaway and Malcolm-Jamal Warner were featured on a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Jesus Children of America"; a dedication to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The track would go on to win the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2015, whilst the album was nominated for Best R&B album.

On June 16, 2015, Robert Glasper released Covered, a return to his acoustic piano trio format alongside musicians Damion Reid and Vicente Archer. The album features cover songs, drawn from an eclectic variety of artists, including Radiohead, John Legend, Kendrick Lamar, and Joni Mitchell. The album was recorded live at Capitol Studios in 2014. Covered was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

2015 saw Glasper and Lauryn Hill co-produce Nina Revisited... A Tribute to Nina Simone, an all-star tribute album pegged to the release of Liz Garbus's documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? The album features artists bringing a contemporary reimagining of Nina Simone's catalogue including contributions from Usher, Common and Mary J. Blige.

In 2015 Glasper served as producer, composer, and arranger for the film Miles Ahead, a biopic documenting the life of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, whom Glasper cites as being one of his major musical influences. The soundtrack primarily consists of arrangements and interpretations of some of Davis' most well-known compositions, with the exception of a few tunes written by Glasper himself, and won him the 2017 Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.

In 2016 Glasper was able to pay further tribute to Miles Davis, releasing Everything's Beautiful on May 27, 2016 - his first with Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. The album serves as a tribute to Davis by way of remixes and reinterpretations of several of his original works. The album debuted in the top 10 billboard Hip Hop and R&B charts; the highest Miles Davis charted according to Rolling Stone. Although Davis died in 1991, he is credited as a co-artist of the album. The album includes features from Stevie Wonder, Bilal, Illa J, Erykah Badu, Phonte, Hiatus Kaiyote, Laura Mvula, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Ledisi, and John Scofield.

September 16, 2016, marked Glasper's return to his electric group, the Robert Glasper Experiment, with the release of ArtScience: The first Experiment LP where all members write and produce, and the first with no guest vocalists - although Glasper himself sings on the album. It features saxophonist and vocalist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Mark Colenburg alongside Glasper, and was recorded in New Orleans. Glasper would go on to release a remix version of the album in collaboration with Kaytranada in 2018 entitled 'Robert Glasper x Kaytranada: The ArtScience Remixes',

2016 saw Glasper receive attention for his prominent role on Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly; notably playing on the Grammy winning track "These Walls".

In October 2016 Glasper co-hosted the inaugural Blue Note Cruise alongside Gregory Porter. The cruise became an annual event and Robert co-hosts it each year with bassist Marcus Miller.

In January 2017 Glasper performed with Christina Aguilera at Taking the Stage, the celebratory concert commemorating the opening of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. It was hosted by Dave Chappelle and featured a plethora of other icons of black music and culture including Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Chuck D and others. The concert was made into a feature-length program and broadcast on ABC in June 2020.

In February 2017 Glasper partnered with Afropunk as Creative and Musical Director for their special Unapologetically Black show, performed at the Apollo Theater. A celebration of African American protest music, the show featured Jill Scott, Bilal, Staceyann Chin and Toshi Reagon alongside a special big band ensemble led by Glasper.

On September 29, 2017 Glasper released Our Point of View with the Blue Note All Stars band, for which he brought together other leading figures of his generation for a special project celebrating the legacy and future of Blue Note Records. The record featured each artists' original compositions as well as a jam session, recorded live in the studio, where the band were joined by Glasper's heroes and jazz icons Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Don Was co-produced the album with Glasper and footage of the recording session features on Sophi Huber's 2019 documentary, Blue Note Records: Behind the Notes.

In September 2017, Glasper appeared on a live stream with Esperanza Spalding while recording "Heaven in Pennies" for Spalding's album Exposure, which was released in December 2017.

In 2018 Glasper formed two new supergroups: R+R=Now with Terrace Martin, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin, Christian Scott and Justin Tryon; and August Greene with Common and Karriem Riggins accompanied by Burniss Travis and Samora Pinderhughes.

R+R=Now stands for Reflect+Respond=Now; a nod to Nina Simone's statement that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times" and a reference to the current political climate. R+R=Now's debut album, Collagically Speaking, was released on June 15, 2018.

August Greene was formed by Glasper, Common and Riggins after Glasper and Riggins jointly produced Common's Black America album, which included the Emmy winning track "Letter to the Free", which featured on Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th. The group had previously performed together for a special edition of the Tiny Desk Concerts concert series at the White House in 2016; the first and only done in the location. August Greene released their self-titled debut album on February 21, 2018.

In October 2018 Glasper launched the first of what would become his annual month-long residencies at the Blue Note Jazz Club.

Each year, in the course of playing 56 sold-out shows across 30 days, Glasper curates a unique program; testimony to the breadth of his portfolio, vision and bandmates, and draws the great and the good of his creative community to the shows on and off stage. Projects have included a tribute to Stevie Wonder with Luke James, a band with Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) and a trio with Esperanza Spalding. Guests have ranged from Common, Black Thought, Yebba and Q-Tip to Angela Davis and Ilyasah Shabazz, Dave Chappelle and Tiffany Haddish, many of whom have made unscripted appearances performing with Glasper as well as watching the show.

In the summer of 2019 Glasper was Artist in Residence at the North Sea Jazz Festival, curating and performing over the weekend with a series of special bands and projects across the festival's stages.

In September 2019 Glasper was Artist in Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He commemorated the opening of their new building with a two-week series of events and outreach.

On October 3, 2019 Glasper released the mixtape Fuck Yo Feelings; his first recording with Loma Vista Recordings, on the first day of his 56-show 2019 residency at the Blue Note Jazz Club. :Fuck Yo Feelings is the result of a 2-day session in which Glasper texted invitations to his musician friends to stop by the studio and organically create together. Featured artists, who included Herbie Hancock, Cordae, Buddy, Andra Day, Yebba, Baby Rose and Rhapsody, often composed their contributions on the spot. The album's name mirrors a tattoo that Glasper got a week before recording.

In 2019 Robert Glasper appeared in Toni Thai Sterrett's "Potty Break" web series as an R&B artist named "The Hawk".[9]

Glasper closed out 2019 by composing the original music for the documentary The Apollo, which tells the story of the Harlem venue of the same name. Glasper co-wrote and performed the film's end credit song "Don't Turn Back Now" alongside Ledisi.

In 2020 Glasper continued his work on the big screen by writing the score for the film The Photograph. Released on February 14, 2020, the film was directed by Stella Meghie and stars Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.

On June 25, 2020, Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, and 9th Wonder announced the formation of a supergroup, Dinner Party. They released a single, "Freeze Tag", followed by their self-titled debut album July 10, 2020.

In March 2020 March Glasper performed at the March On Washington with Derrick Hodge and George Clinton.

On August 27 of 2020, Robert released "Better Than I Imagined"; the first single from his forthcoming Black Radio 3 album. It features H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello.

In August 2020, Glasper contributed to the live streamed recording of the singer Bilal's EP Voyage-19:, created remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. It was released the following month with proceeds from its sales going to participating musicians in financial hardship from the pandemic.

In September 2020 Glasper collaborated with Common to write and perform the ending theme song for the educational Netflix Show Bookmarks in which Black celebrities and artists read children's books by Black authors to spark meaningful conversations about empathy, equality, justice, self-love, and anti-racism. Presented by Marley Dias, the show features readings by Lupita Nyong'o, Jill Scott, Misty Copeland, Karamo Brown and more.

Musical styleEdit

Glasper's albums are centered around his work as a solo artist, and two bands: The Robert Glasper Trio (on piano Robert Glasper, drummer Damion Reid, and bassist Vicente Archer) as an acoustic jazz trio, and The Robert Glasper Experiment (Glasper, drummer Mark Colenburg, saxophonist/vocoderist Casey Benjamin and bassist Derrick Hodge) as an electronic act that defies genre norms from any single discipline. "That's what makes this band unique... We can go anywhere, literally anywhere, we want to go. We all have musical ADD and we love it."[10] With primary influences in neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and R&B, Glasper also has reinterpreted songs from rock acts Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, and David Bowie.[11] As a jazz artist, Rashod D. Ollison reviewed him after the release of Canvas as "a gifted jazz musician with a brilliant, energetic technique and a fresh, mesmerizing sense of melody and composition".[12]

Glasper claims that the music of Miles Davis has had a significant influence on his style throughout his career as a musician. Both the soundtrack for Miles Ahead and the tribute album Everything's Beautiful are clear indications of this influence.

"I'm obviously influenced by Miles Davis – even just the psyche of how he thinks about music...how he moves through, and always wanted to reflect the times he's in. That's what I'm doing now. He opened that door."[13]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2010 "All Matter" (with Bilal) Best Urban/Alternative Performance Nominated
2013 Black Radio Best R&B Album Won
"Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)" (with Ledisi) Best R&B Performance Nominated
2015 Black Radio 2 Best R&B Album Nominated
"Jesus Children of America" (with Lalah Hathaway & Malcolm-Jamal Warner) Best Traditional R&B Performance Won
2016 Covered: Recorded Live at Capitol Records Best Jazz Instrumental Album Nominated
2017 Miles Ahead Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Won
2021 Fuck Yo Feelings Best Progressive R&B Album Nominated
"Better Than I Imagined" (with H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello) Best R&B Song Won

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Year recorded Year released Title Label Notes
2002 2004 Mood Fresh Sound New Talent Most tracks trio, with Bob Hurst (bass), Damion Reid (drums); two tracks quartet, with Bilal (vocals) added; one track quintet with John Ellis (tenor sax), Mike Moreno (guitar) added; one track quintet with Ellis and Marcus Strickland (tenor sax) added[14]
2005 2005 Canvas Blue Note Most tracks trio, with Vicente Archer (bass), Damion Reid (drums); two tracks quartet, with Mark Turner (tenor sax) or Bilal (vocals) added; one track quintet, with Turner and Bilal added[15]
2006 2007 In My Element Blue Note Most tracks trio, with Vicente Archer (bass), Damion Reid (drums); one track with Reverend Joe Ratliff (spoken word) added[16]
2009 Double-Booked Blue Note Some tracks trio with Derrick Hodge (electric bass), Casey Benjamin (alto sax, vocoder); some tracks quartet, with Mos Def or Bilal (vocals) added; some tracks trio with Vicente Archer (bass), Chris Dave (drums)[17]
2012 Black Radio Blue Note With Casey Benjamin (vocoder, flute, sax, synthesizer), Derrick Hodge (bass), Chris Dave (drums, percussion); with Jahi Sundance (turntables) added on some tracks; plus various featured artists[18]
2013 Black Radio 2 Blue Note With Casey Benjamin (sax, synthesizer, vocoder), Derrick Hodge (bass) Mark Colenburg (drums, percussion); plus various featured artists[19]
2014 2015 Covered Blue Note Most tracks trio, with Vicente Archer (bass), Damion Reid (drums); plus various featured artists[20]
2016 Everything's Beautiful Columbia/Legacy uses samples of Miles Davis
2016 ArtScience Blue Note [21]
2019 Fuck Yo Feelings Loma Vista Recordings With Chris Dave (drums), Derrick Hodge (bass), Affion Crockett, Buddy, Denzel Curry, Terrace Martin, James Poysner, YBN Cordae, Bilal, Herbie Hancock, Mick Jenkins, Yebba, Andra Day, Staceyann Chin, Baby Rose, Rapsody, SIR, B Kelly, Song Bird, Muhsinah, Queen Sheba, Yasiin Bey.
2020 Dinner Party Sounds of Crenshaw/Empire With Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, 9th Wonder.[22]

EPsEdit

SoundtracksEdit

As a FeatureEdit

With R+R=NowEdit

  • Collagically speaking (2018)[26]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "ACE Repertory".
  2. ^ "Artist Biography by Matt Collar". AllMusic. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Pianist Robert Glasper Straddles Jazz and R&B at Winter Fest". Activate.metroactive.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  4. ^ "talib kweli podcast w glasper".
  5. ^ https://www.vailjazz.org/education/vail-jazz-workshop/alumni/1997-alumni/
  6. ^ "Notable Alumni". Newschool.edu. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "To stop jazz's slide into irrelevancy, Robert Glasper is adding different genres to the mix". Daily News. New York. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  8. ^ Gonzales, Michael (February 6, 2013). "Bilal's Back, Better Than Before". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved July 21, 2020 – via Issuu.
  9. ^ "Watch Multi-Grammy Award Winner Robert Glasper in Toni Thai Sterrett's Potty Break Webseries". Blackfilm - Black Movies, television, and Theatre News. January 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  10. ^ "The New Parish - Robert Glasper Experiment". The New Parish. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  11. ^ "Review of Robert Glasper's Black Radio". BBC. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  12. ^ Ollison, Rashod. "A modern-jazz master". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Chinen, Nate (May 25, 2016). "What Would Miles Davis Do? Robert Glasper Has An Idea". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "Review of Mood". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  15. ^ "All About Jazz Review of Canvas". Allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  16. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 561. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  17. ^ "Allmusic - Review of Double Booked". AllMusic. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  18. ^ "Robert Glasper, Black Radio – Track-by-Track Review". The Jazz Line. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  19. ^ "Robert Glasper Announces Deluxe Edition of Black Radio 2 & iTunes Pre-Order: News: Blue Note Records". Blue Note Records. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  20. ^ "Exclusive: Robert Glasper's Next Experiment Is a Return to Jazz". Billboard. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "Robert Glasper Experiment Detail New Album ArtScience, Share "Find You": Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  22. ^ "Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, 9th Wonder Debut New Supergroup Dinner Party". June 25, 2020.
  23. ^ "the making of robert glaspers black radio recovered (the remix ep)". Lifeandtimes.com. October 12, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  24. ^ "Robert Glasper releases 'Porter Chops Glasper' digital EP; Announces tour with Ledisi". Blue Note. February 25, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  25. ^ "Robert Glasper/Miles Davis: Everything's beautiful". Pitchfork. May 28, 2016. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  26. ^ "Blue Note: 'R+R=Now' debut album 'Collagically Speaking'". bluenote.com. May 18, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2019.

External linksEdit