I hadn't originally planned to check out any music this holiday weekend, but when I found myself near home without any plans on Saturday night, I decided to wander up to Celebrate Brooklyn to check out the Robert Glasper Experiment at the Bandshell. As it happened, about 7,000 other people had the same idea: not a bad crowd for an essentially avant player who fuses Herbie Hancock-style jazz with Hip Hop and R&B. (Last year, Glasper won the GRAMMY for Best R&B album.)
It certainly didn't hurt that Saturday's show was free and a beautiful night to be outdoors. It also didn't hurt that Glasper was joined by local MC Talib Kweli, whose rapid-fire rhymes were a wonder to behold. The most extraordinary moments, though, featured Glasper's own elegant phrasing, Casey Benjamin's emphatic vocoder singing, and Mark Colenburg's almost superhuman stamina on drums. (They were joined by the capable bassist Derrick Hodge.) With a set list that included everything from Radiohead to Daft Punk, there was literally something for everyone in this show.
“I think it’s very important that jazz musicians feed off the fruit of the music that actually is the soundtrack of their lives," Glasper says. "The only way to keep something relevant is to renew it from history and let it grow and change. Black people have invented so many dope genres that everyone loves: Jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and the list goes on. I don’t have to exclude anything.”
More pics on the photo page.