May 2012 27

A sold out night at one of the city’s most credible venues.  With much expectation for a little known jazz pianist and much ado about what he could deliver and more importantly WHO he would bring on stage. There was a clear buzz in the atmosphere. Robert Glasper had arrived…

From 7pm, the Barbican doors opened and were brimming with excitement. As we took to our seats and awaited Robert Glasper, we were instead greeted firstly by a young man and his vocoder. Casey Benjamin gave us a prelude to the intricate, detailed sounds we were to experience that evening, as he simultaneously weaved the vocoder around his own voicebox. Later joined by drummer Mark Colenburg and electric bassist/guitarist Derrick Hodge and then eventually a casual entry from Mr Glasper and the stage was complete.

Amongst the four of them, stood years of training, practice and a whole host of recognisable names that they have worked with. From Common, to Erykah Badu, to Maxwell to Jigga himself. The list is endless.

Exploring sonics that are not revealed on the CD, the four of them faithfully delved, delivered and digged deeper through Glasper’s recent album. Giving new reneditions of album favourites including ‘Ah Yeah’ that proceeded along the 10 minute mark. Nothing unusual, most of the tracks were filled with 5 minute long solos, using the track as nothing more than a skeleton guide. Later the quartet were joined by surprise guest Bilal, who passionately sang his own personal offering from the album ‘ Letter To Hermione’. With the crowd loving the return of Bilal to these shores, he stuck around a little longer and quirkly danced and weaved between the band as he gave ‘All Matter’ to the Barbican crowd.

The other surprise guest was Lalah Hathaway who also features on the LP. Her silky dulcet tones echoed through the seats, leaving everyone in roaring applause and adoring cheers. Then the six paid homage to the late J Dilla. Paying ode to one of the greatest beatsmiths with brief throwbacks to sounds of past. Later switching it up and giving some focus to musical peers, past and present  including Floetry’s ultimate jam ”Say Yes’, Common’s ‘The Light’, Herbie Hancock’s  Butterfly and even some New Kids On The Block and Cyndi Lauper thrown in the mix for good measure.

What Robert Glasper and the experiment conducted on stage, left the audience with a Q&A in the solid pursuit of music experimentation,  a look into a labyrinth of rediscovered aural pleasures and effortlessly showcased how emotion can still be prevalent in live music.

Nearly three hours later, I was left wanting more…

Robert Glasper w/ Lalah Hathaway and Bilal – 14th May 2012 @ The Barbican