Having worked with artists like Q-Tip, Kanye West and J. Dilla, it’s safe to say that Texan jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper is well connected. His quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, includes three talented and multi-influenced musicians; bassist Derrick Hodge, Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone and drummer Chris Dave. The group’s fifth album, Black Radio, took home the Grammy Award for best R&B album this year. The atmospheric 2012 album garnered broad appeal, featuring contributions from artists like Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), and Meshell Ndegeocello. The experimental R&B group will be back with an ambitious follow up album, Black Radio 2, featuring Common, Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg and even Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.
Starting out with “I Can’t Help It,” a composition by the late, great Michael Jackson, the Robert Glasper Experiment sauntered onto the KEXP Bumbershoot Music Lounge stage for a chilled out performance. Glasper and his counterparts expertly unified Daft Punk-esque auto-tuned vocals, jazz and R&B to create their unique, genre-defying brand of music.
The name behind the experiment, Robert Glasper, darted around his keyboard like it was the back of his hand. The entire band made playing complex instruments and melodies look easy, their performance was so mesmerizing, even they looked entranced. The group played the final track of Black Radio, a piece that all Seattle-ites should recognize, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” When most people hear “jazzy, auto-tuned Nirvana,” they don’t feel overly enthused, but it turns out that it’s genius.