Pianist and producer Robert Glasper is on a mission to reconnect jazz with black music. In the past decade he's helped transform the work of artists like Kendrick Lamar, Brittany Howard and more.
ended the the 2000s with an album called Double Booked, which made a selling point out of his straddling of two worlds — acoustic jazz piano on one side, R&B/hip-hop groove on the other. The second of those involved a group called The Robert Glasper Experiment, and he felt it had a statement to make.
It arrived in the form of an album called Black Radio
, which Blue Note released in 2012. Studded with notable guest artists (like rappers Lupe Fiasco
and Yasiin Bey, and singers Lalah Hathaway
and Erykah Badu
), it heralded a renewed spirit of collaboration between jazz and what had previously been known as neo-soul. When Black Radio won a Grammy in 2013 — not in a jazz category but for Best R&B Album — it felt like the opening of a new chapter.
On this episode of All Songs Considered, host Robin Hilton is joined by Nate Chinen, from WBGO and Jazz Night in America, and Rodney Carmichael, from NPR Music, to discuss the influence of Glasper's approach — not only in jazz circles but also on hip-hop touchstones like Kendrick Lamar
's To Pimp A Butterfly, and beyond-soul masterworks released this year, like Flying Lotus
' Flamagra and Brittany Howard