Louise Harrold gives us the lowdown on grammy award-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper’s Colston Hall gig on 19 November
Sometimes you attend a gig that is so enthralling that you find yourself completely caught up in it; barely interested in exchanging pleasantries and chatter with the friends you arrived with, not wanting to leave for a toilet break and, most tellingly of all, forgoing a quick trip to the bar as you don’t want to miss out on a second of it. This was the experience we were in for, watching the Robert Glasper Experiment at Colston Hall.
Fully sold out, there had been grumblings from those who had missed out on snagging a ticket to see the double Grammy award winner and, while he easily could have filled the main hall, I couldn’t help but be happy the show was in the more intimate Lantern room. As we waited for the concert to begin there was a buzzing air of expectancy in the room; yet when Mr Glasper and his band came out to play, he exuded such an easy warmth, you almost felt you were watching a friend’s band performing, not one of the most well-regarded jazz musicians of his generation.
While being most strongly aligned with jazz, Glasper refuses to be constrained by genre, dipping in and out of styles as he wishes but doing so seamlessly – fusing experimental free-form jazz with various compound time signatures and heavy hip-hop. With the help of the phenomenal Mark Colenburg on drums and with Casey Benjamin taking the lead vocals (not to mention keytar, vocoder, soprano sax and an array of effects pedals) we were treated to a combination of musical styles that would more than please the ears of hip-hop and rap fans, as well as more elitist jazz enthusiasts. At the helm of it all, Glasper effortlessly blended these genres as he played masterfully on his vintage Fender Rhodes piano and synthesisers simultaneously.
Highlights included his new single Find You, from his offering of this year ArtScience, and the wonderfully soulful You And Me, introduced with a drawling “this one is for the ladies….”; and maybe it was for the ladies, but as we all stood transfixed in our own individual bubbles of appreciation, I think we each felt it was just for us.