His laughter echoes backstage at the Machine du Moulin Rouge in Paris. On this scorching day in July, Robert Glasper will be on stage in barely an hour, and that does not prevent him from being disconcertingly relaxed. The 44-year-old jazz pianist is not one to get stage fright. He knew him younger, when at 19 he landed in New York from his native Texas, in order to rub shoulders with all the musicians in town. This relaxation, he will certainly still have it on August 27 at the Rock en Seine festival in front of several thousand people with his group, Robert Glasper Experiment, which wants to be the link between the new jazz scene and hip-hop.
He played for the greatest, from Lauryn Hill to the Roots on Kendrick Lamar’s album, participated in several collaborative projects, such as R + R = Now Where dinner party with Terrace Martin, composed music for films like Miles Ahead, by Don Cheadle. With his series Black Radio, whose first volume won the Grammy Award for Best R’n’B Album in 2013 and whose latest, Black Radio III, was released in February 2022, the musician also speaks for America’s troubles, faithful to the mindset of a Nina Simone, who claimed that “the duty of an artist is to reflect his time”.
“’Black Radio’ took me from the world of jazz to the public of hip-hop and R’n’B. »Robert Glasper
Modest, the musician nuances: “I’m not one to speak up at all times, I prefer to let the real revolutionaries speak, like Common or Killer Mike. » Both are present on his third Black Radio. To introduce the disc, he also calls on the poet Amir Sulaiman, spotted during the short film 8:46, by comedian Dave Chappelle : “I asked him to tell in his own words the year 2021: Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, the Trump scandal. »
The poet then takes up a saying of the black community: “We don’t play music, we pray music” : ” This sentence, reminisces Glasper, has been around forever. We don’t play music, we pray to music because, for us, it is above all spiritual. It has carried us since slavery. It is deeply rooted in our culture and in who we are. »
Mother gospel and blues singer
When he goes out Black Radio in 2012, Robert Glasper already has four jazz albums behind him, including three published on the legendary Blue Note label, that of Miles Davis, his idol, or John Coltrane. ” Black Radio took me from the world of jazz to the public of hip-hop and R’n’Bhe summarizes. Before, you had to be Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige or John Legend to enter the R’n’B selection of the Grammys. My success opened the door to Snarky Puppy, Thundercat, Anderson. Paak, artists like me, out of categories. »
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