Robert Glasper

In My Element | Blue Note
By JON GARELICK  |  March 27, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
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In a lot of ways, 28-year-old pianist Glasper’s band with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid is right in the pocket of the modern piano-trio tradition: elastic three-way conversations among acoustic instruments. And a medium-tempo dance like Glasper’s “One for ’Grew” (for Mulgrew Miller) bears that out: an easy 4/4 over Latin accents. But more typical is the opener, “G&B,” which toggles between the title keys, the tease of a melody cycling through an odd-metered groove. Glasper prefers fragmented statements, short bursts of notes, and slow-developing group narratives to long-lined eighth-note solos. Instead, he, Archer, and Reid create engines of contrary motion, tugging the rhythm and harmony every which way — the fast drum ’n’ bass patter of Archer’s snare and kick, Reid’s lurching syncopations, Glasper stating and eliding the beat. The linear statements come in short right-hand machine-gun bursts; the left-hand chords don’t merely outline the harmonic shape of the piece, they offer commentary — reassuring or mournful — to the agitation in the right. Sometimes the beat breaks into hip-hop (there’s a piece by J Dilla), elsewhere into unabashed romantic balladry (Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place” mashed with Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”). Glasper’s transparent surfaces reveal roiling depths.
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