Every morning I brush my teeth, take a shower then stick a Q-tip in my ear to clean out my ear wax. However, ever since I saw the Robert Glasper Experiment on June 25, 2013, I have noticed that my Q-tip has also been scooping up dollops of liquefied brain. I should probably see a doctor but all I can really do is try and relive the jazz band’s brain-melting experience of a performance.
This was my second time seeing the legendary pianist and his band as a part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. The first time I saw the Robert Glasper Experiment, it was at a larger theater-type venue and this time around it was at a very small bar called The Golden Horseshoe Tavern. There are pros and cons to each show but this one in particular was definitely much more intimate as Glasper was able to interact with the crowd and show off his sense of humor. He was joined by Derrick Hodge and his bass guitar, Mark Colenburg on the drums and Casey Benjamin with his saxophone and vocoder vocals (not autotune!).
Going into the show, my good friend, who is a drummer, expressed his disappointment at the fact that Chris Dave would not be performing as he is the one who played the drums for the Robert Glasper Experiment’s 2012 release, Black Radio. Dave’s “tangent drumming” style is very appealing and entertaining, however, Colenburg pulled off a performance that was more than enough to fill the shoes of Dave. He is definitely more of a pocket drummer than Dave, but that was not a bad thing at all as his beats and breakdowns served as an impeccable compliment to the entire band. These sentiments were confirmed by my friend and you should trust his opinion on the matter more than mine because…well…he is a drummer.
The band played hits from Black Radio like “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B)” and my personal favorite, “Ah Yeah”. Ledisi, Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michelle were not in attendance to perform their respective vocal portions of the songs but Casey Benjamin filled in with his trusty vocoder. They also did their own renditions of some pop hits. Hearing their version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” will ensure that I never listen to the original version of the song because, frankly, it blew it out of the water. The Robert Glasper Experiment also did a cover of “No Church in the Wild” which seamlessly transitioned into another Black Radio hit, “Cherish the Day”. The sheer amount of musical melody that was hitting my eardrums made my body a complete slave to the musings of my mind.
How did Robert Glasper sound on the piano you ask? The answer is simple. Brilliant. The complexity of the notes and chords he strung together were way beyond anything my musically uneducated ass would be able to do justice in explaining. There would be moments when you could tell he was in the zone as he would show it in his facial expression. Whenever he gave the crowd “the look”, we knew that we were in for a treat.
The Robert Glasper Experiment did not play anything off their highly anticipated release, Black Radio 2, but Glasper did confirm that the album would be coming out sooner rather than later and even revealed that Common, Dwele and Brandy are all featured on it. With that being said, if you see the Robert Glasper Experiment coming to your town, buy tickets for you and your friends and prepare for an aurgasm.