Glasper & Robert Glasper Trio
@ Barbican & the Queen Elizabeth Hall
14 November 2010 - 15 November 2009
Click an image to enlarge.
Desert Island Discs
Which 2 albums would you take with you to a
Herbie Hancock – Sunlight
Stevie Wonder - The Best Of?
Texan born Robert Glasper’s first strong
musical influence was his mother ‘Yvete Glasper.
Ms Glasper played piano and sang gospel music in the family’s
church. She also led a band that worked the city’s jazz and
blues club circuit. By the age of twelve Robert was playing piano
in the same church.
By the time Glasper had reached adolescence, he
knew his destiny was to be a jazz musician.
He attended Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts.
After graduating he continued his studies at New School University
in Manhattan. He soon hooked up with future band member Damien Reid
and old school mate Bilal.
Glasper progressed swiftly to earn his place gigging
alongside Russell Malone, Christine McBride and Kenny Garret. Such
early exposure led to further introductions. Jazz greats such as
Carmen Lundy, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove
were all keen to accept Glasper into their world
Glasper’s Sophmore album “Mood”
was released on indie label Fresh Sound New Talent in 2003. He joined
the Blue Note label two years later.
Canvas (released October 17 2005)
I procrastinated for quite some time before deciding
to review Robert Glasper’s “Canvas”.
After many decades of music buying, I still get a tingle of excitement
whenever I physically grasp a new album. Probably similar to many
women’s passion for designer shoes. Of course I have never
looked that great in high heels, so I’ll stick to purchasing
great music for as long as I can afford to!
The emergence of Glasper’s Canvas takes me
back to the early eighties - bear with me…. In the early eighties
a young little known trio named ‘Pieces Of A Dream’
burst onto the scene. Jazz lovers and music journalists were shocked
when they discovered the relatively fresh faces of this trio on
their first album cover. Questions were asked regarding how a group
so young could ‘compose’ and create such a mature, enduring
sound. Times have moved on and many young talented musicians have
emerged, who in turn have produced jazz gems. These gems have withstood
the test of time. Glasper and “Canvas” can be added
to this list of ‘young talented musicians who have produced
This album is, in many ways a celebration of Glasper’s
intuitive approach as a composer. Glasper himself pens all compositions
apart from Herbie Hancock’s “Riot”.
“I want to be able to continue expressing
Glasper calmly revealed during our informal chat
recently. He spoke briefly about his school years and his shared
dreams and friendship with the continually rising neo-soul star
Bilal. Glasper’s back straightened and his eyes lit up with
love and respect when discussing his late mother, who features on
the hauntingly beautiful “Remember”. This composition,
which Glasper fittingly dedicates to his mother, also features Bilal,
who adds a melodic moan and rhythmic groove on another Glasper composition,
Canvas carries subtle R&B / hip-hop influences
throughout. So subtle are these influences within many of Glasper’s
main piano led compositions that they will possibly be missed by
the staunch R&B / hip-hop lover. However - give it a few years
I am confident many hip hop ‘hit-makers’ will be revisiting
this album to loop a few beats and revel in it’s fresh creative
bounce. Especially from the intriguingly ghostly “Centelude”.
Glasper’s soulful influence is less subtle, possibly helped
along by fellow school pal Billal. Glasper allows the listener to
almost ‘grow into each composition’. I felt I was given
time and space to explore. Each time I revisited this album, it
sounded different. I have listened many times now and feel I still
have not fully grasped the whole spectrum of emotions Glasper has
on offer. I have no doubt regarding my favourite composition. “Chant”,
which sticks in my head and heart - just like my first ‘real
The only negative issue regarding this album is
not actually related to the musician and his music, but more towards
the format it is recorded on. C D technology has definitely moved
on from it’s early cold primal beginnings, but my ears and
soul still crave for the added depth and detail which I know can
be found within the dark grooves of a well-pressed ‘analogue’,
vinyl recording. Yep I’m a young man trained in the old school
Review October 2005