The Robert Glasper Trio will be performing at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 8 pm. The group will perform selections from their 2016 GRAMMY Award-nominated album “Covered” along with some of Glasper’s original compositions.
Following the breakthrough commercial and critical success of his two GRAMMY-winning R&B-oriented Black Radio albums, Robert Glasper returns to his acoustic jazz roots with “Covered” (The Robert Glasper Trio recorded live at Capitol Studios). The album reunites Glasper with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid, reforming the trio that created his first two Blue Notes releases, “Canvas” (2005) and “In My Element” (2007).
“Covered,” which was recorded before an intimate gathering of invited guests in Capitol Records’ historic Studio A, was designed to bring Glasper’s newfound Black Radio fan base along as he returned to the jazz fold. The set list features songs by hip-hop and R&B stars like Kendrick Lamar, Musiq Soulchild, John Legend, and Bilal alongside the jazz standard “Stella By Starlight.” Displaying his trademark eclecticism, Glasper also includes tunes by Radiohead and Joni Mitchell, along with a stirring collaboration with legendary singer / activist Harry Belafonte. The Glasper originals on the album include a re-working of “I Don’t Even Care” which was a bonus track on Black Radio 2 featuring Macy Gray and Jean Grae.
“I missed the piano,” Glasper says simply, explaining his return to the acoustic piano trio. For the past five years, he’s focused almost exclusively on keyboards while recording and touring with his Experiment band. Those efforts earned him unprecedented success, with both volumes of Black Radio winning GRAMMY Awards in R&B categories and topping Billboard’s Jazz and R&B/Hip-Hop charts, placing him in the company of pop music superstars like Drake, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. So when it came time to embrace the piano trio once again, he decided to mix flavors old and new, reconvening with Archer and Reid for the first time since 2007 while continuing to explore his hip-hop and R&B influences.
“I didn’t want to go back to trio and just play a bunch of standards or original jazz compositions, because then I would lose the big fan base I just built from mainstream R&B,” Glasper explains. “So I decided on a happy medium, returning to the piano trio but doing cover songs, which is something that I’ve never done before. It’s something that can feed the appetites of both my R&B/hip-hop audience and my jazz audience at the same time.”
While his heightened profile following Black Radio could have afforded Glasper his choice of collaborators for his follow-up project, the pianist was determined to work again with his original trio. “I always want to have an original sound,” he explains. “I’ve never been a big fan of all-star albums. They’re kind of like having five LeBron James’ on a team – you don’t win like that. The guys in my acoustic trio are my favorite musicians on their instruments. And musically it felt great.”
In addition to recording Covered, Glasper has been busy with a wide variety of musical pursuits. He recently finished composing and recording the score for Miles Ahead, actor / director Don Cheadle’s upcoming film about Miles Davis. For a separate project, Glasper was also given unique access to Davis’ Columbia Records vaults, from which he is assembling a remix album crafting new music from the legendary trumpeter’s recordings, rehearsals and outtakes, and he has produced a new tribute album to Nina Simone in conjunction with an upcoming documentary about the singer. He is also been named an official Steinway artist, joining a select group of world-class pianists who have chosen to perform exclusively on the family of Steinway-designed pianos.