The Lot, Edinburgh, Thu 27 Mar
Blue Note recording artist Robert Glasper has made one of the more successful attempts to merge the influences of jazz with contemporary urban forms, and particularly hip hop. While such experiments often end up producing sub-standard hybrids that do justice to neither, Glasper has found a more integrated approach within the conventional piano, double bass and drums format of his jazz trio.
The pianist first caught my ear at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival a couple of years ago in a band led by Wallace Roney that was notably less successful in making a similar integration, but his own development of the process has worked effectively on record, and augers well for this visit with his trio, which features Vicente Archer on bass and Damion Reid on drums.
The Houston-born, New York-based pianist’s jazz pedigree is impeccable, while his connections on the hip hop side of the equation include acting as musical director for Bilal and Mos Def (more tenuously, R&B singer Letoya is his cousin and he went to school with Beyoncé). He has acknowledged that part of his aim is to introduce jazz to a young audience weaned on urban dance music.
‘I’m playing the music of my generation, and I do feel a responsibility because most people like me that are my age or younger, they don’t quite make it over to the jazz side. They flirt with it, but they don’t quite marry it. But I also have a responsibility as a young black piano player. As a young black jazz musician. That’s a lost thing too. You go to a jazz club these days and a lot of cats aren’t young black dudes, and I’d like to see that change.’