As a writer and performer of arresting melodic, yet complex improvisational compositions with his acoustic jazz group, The Robert Glasper Trio, Robert Glasper established himself as one of the young torchbearers of the post-bop jazz form in the 2000s with the release of his first three albums. But halfway through his fourth album, 2009’s Double Booked, Glasper dropped the acoustics, went electric, and incorporated elements of funk in the bop mix with a new band called the Robert Glasper Experiment. He followed this electric formula with the Grammy winning 2012 album, Black Radio. The latest Robert Glasper Experiment album, Black Radio 2, continues to expand on the genre-bending expressions established by this band, which is comprised of Glasper (piano), Mark Colenburg (Drums), Derrick Hodge (electric bass), and Casey Benjamin (saxophones, vocals and vocoder).
Fusing elements of jazz, neo-soul, R&B, hip-hop, and rock, this album is much more than the sum of all its parts. The sound redefines all of these ingredients, while radically questioning just what are the commercial expectations of Black Radio. Due to the aesthetic nature of these songs, ironically, don’t expect to hear much of this on any commercial radio, but the creative originality and the mellow introspective tone medicates, heals and restores. This band, accompanied by an all-star cast of hip-hop artists and vocalists from divergent genres, unleashes an album full of gems. Peppered with narratives, comedy outtakes, and spoken word selections from various media personalities and with 14 original compositions and two covers, there are no weak cuts on this outing. Notable performances include, “I Stand Alone,” featuring Common and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, “What Are We Doing,” featuring Brandy, who displays surprising vocal maturity and dexterity, “Let It Ride,” featuring Nora Jones and Wayne Brady, and “Persevere,” featuring Snoop Dog (not Snoop Lion) and Lupe Fiasco. This is required listening for the meditative, mellow aficionados.