Lucid Entertainment and We Love Soul.net Presents
With Special Guest Bilal
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pmDouble Door
$25.00 - $35.00
This event is 21 and overhttp://www.doubledoor.com/event/85061/
Career-wise, this creates a constant balancing act, and on occasion literally being double-booked, appearing with the Trio and the Experiment on the same night. Such is the storyline that emerges on Double-Booked, with conflicting voicemail messages from Terence Blanchard and Roots drummer Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson, each pulling for a different Glasper band.
“Most people, if they have different bands, they do separate albums,” says Glasper. “But I felt I’d be making more of a statement if I put it all on one joint.” The result, in essence, is a snapshot of Glasper’s life. “This is what I’m dealing with,” he continues. “It’s not like I play jazz but I also play hip-hop now and then. I’m in it, for real, both sides of the spectrum. That’s my life. A lot of people go in stages—they might focus on trio for a long time, then they change or whatever. My thing is both, all the time.”
The first six tracks on Double-Booked feature Glasper in Trio setting with longtime bassist Vicente Archer as well as drummer Chris Dave, who plays in Glasper’s Experiment band but recently came on board the Trio as well. “It’s hard to find that common thread in one cat,” Glasper enthuses. “Very few cats out there are extremely convincing in all genres of music. There’s always a wink-wink somewhere, like they play jazz really good but the hip-hop’s a little strange, or vice versa. Chris has both sides down on an even level, and he keeps on creating. He and Vicente used to play together with Kenny Garrett, so they have a history that made the linkup a lot easier. He knows the Chris-isms and Chris knows the Vicente-isms.”
As on In My Element, Glasper underlines the Trio’s hip-hop leanings with short fade-in interludes (“little Pete Rock-isms,” Glasper says) that function as short codas to some of the tunes. From the outset, with the lyrical flow and supple interaction of “No Worries,” one hears what Nate Chinen of The New York Times describes as “spongey, changeable adaptations of hip-hop rhythm tracks…Glasper himself plays as if he’s a living sample…in a kind of real-time loop.” “This is a little ditty I came up with when I was in London at a soundcheck,” Glasper recalls. “We played it that night at the show. I kept hearing people in London say ‘no worries,’ and that seemed like the title. It has a real positive, bright, ‘It’s ok’ vibe.”
“Downtime,” set mainly in 7/4, evokes a memory of Glasper looking out the window at the rain—“kind of like the ‘F.T.B.’ of this record, if you will,” Glasper says, referencing a standout track from In My Element. Both “Yes I’m Country (And That’s OK)” and “59 South,” meanwhile, touch upon Glasper’s hometown environment in Texas. The latter references a heavily trafficked highway in Houston, a cultural reference not unlike the Brooklyn Bridge in Glasper’s current home base, New York. “Yes I’m Country” prompts Glasper to explain: “I have a country swing when I play sometimes, and I like playing that way.” The vamp of the tune, an intriguing five-bar phrase, exemplifies the sort of off-kilter rapport that sets the Glasper Trio apart. “I love odd phrases that vamp,” he adds. “It brings a whole different feeling than a regular vamp.”
The Trio portion of Double-Booked culminates with an astonishing treatment of Thelonious Monk’s “Think of One.” In an ingenious and totally natural overlay, Glasper seizes an opportunity in last A section to quote Ahmad Jamal’s “Swahililand,” the chord progression that formed the basis of De La Soul’s 1996 hip-hop classic “Stakes Is High,” co-written by Glasper’s hero and friend, the late beatmaster J Dilla. “Monk and Dilla are both passed away, so when I play live I sometimes say they’re both probably in heaven, chillin’. Maybe they’re talking about this arrangement! I always wanted to mix a jazz joint with a hip-hop joint but make it dope, not contrived. Chris’s drumbeat is so crazy at the end, the hi-hat with the placement of the bass drum—you don’t get this on a jazz record, ever. That’s why I made it the last Trio tune, because it’s a perfect segue.”
From that point forward, we are firmly in Experiment-land, with Chris Dave remaining on drums—although the drum sound on this half of the album can be markedly different from the first. “4Eva,” a live excerpt featuring rap icon Mos Def, leads us straight into another world. “Butterfly” is originally from Thrust, Herbie Hancock’s 1974 landmark album. Hancock, as both a pianist and a genre-crossing innovator, is of course a huge influence on Glasper. “It just happens that every one of my records has a Herbie tune—it seems like I’m doing it on purpose,” Glasper says. “I’m not. But I had to put this on the record because it’s dope.” Casey Benjamin’s vocoder effects heighten the mystery of the melody, and a J Dilla beat called “F--- the Police” serves as a rhythmic foundation.
Benjamin’s arsenal of sonic effects is at the fore of “Festival,” colored by Glasper’s Fender Rhodes, taking wild, digressive turns over the course of 10 minutes—the Experiment sound at its most representative and expansive. “Casey has so many pedals, it’s a whole thing when he sets up, he has to go to the gig before us,” says Glasper with a laugh, noting that Benjamin is playing only alto saxophone and “nothing’s overdubbed.” A short transitional piece, “For You” by Benjamin and drummer Sameer Gupta, leads into “All Matter,” a striking, unclassifiable original by vocalist Bilal Oliver. Glasper offers: “You can really do this song in any situation, and it does stick with you. So pretty.” Derrick Hodge, the Experiment’s bassist, an accomplished composer as well as a top-shelf jazz and hip-hop sideman, contributes the final track, “Open Mind,” also featuring Bilal. It’s “a spiritual tune” in Glasper’s words, with additional textures and voice elements from turntablist Jahi Sundance, the son of alto saxophone great Oliver Lake.
Hailed by listeners and critics, Glasper has also garnered the respect of the toughest audience of all: musicians from across the jazz spectrum. In a May 2008 Blindfold Test for Down Beat magazine, a fellow pianist instantly identified Glasper and praised him as “a fantastic musician,” pinpointing characteristics of his unique style: “a harmonic maze, but also an insistent rhythm, certain turns and filigrees and ornaments, some of them sort of gospelish.” With Double-Booked, Glasper further develops all these elements and pulls them together in a new synthesis, continuing his ascent to the top ranks of modern jazz artistry.
“I have a very connected history with Bilal. I heard his demo years ago. I heard all of the magic instantly. He’s a master at interpretation of song.” – Q-Tip
“Bilal is hands down one of the greatest specimens of voice in post-modern hip-hop culture.” –Questlove
“His voice is like a Van Gogh painting … A Salvador Dali … His voice has so many textures to it.” – Janelle Monae
Los Angeles, CA (June 16, 2010) – Grammy-nominated musical artist Bilal returns with his third studio album, Airtight’s Revenge, which will be released September 14 through Plug Research Music and distributed through The Orchard.
A provocative genre-bending album that dissects love, politics and relationships, Airtight’s Revenge demonstrates the Philly-bred singer’s growth as an artist. “It’s a mix of jazz, hip-hop, soul, blues, and experimental free music,” says Bilal. The differences in economical social classes inspired the track “Robots,” which scrutinizes societal and governmental effects on people. After watching the 2007 documentary, “Zeitgeist: The Movie,” Bilal wrote “Who R U.” “Of all religions, I drive to be human,” says Bilal. At the end of the day, we are all one. We need to connect with the spiritual side of ourselves; we don’t need to inflict that on others. It’s OK to have free thought. “Little Ones,” a smooth track with a soulful sound is dedicated to his sons. “My youngest son has Sickle Cell and my oldest son has Autism. This song is for them,” stated Bilal. Steve McKie (Jill Scott, Estelle, Kindred, Vivian Green) co-produced the album with Bilal, recorded in Philadelphia, Virginia and Los Angeles. The album also features production by Nottz (Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Drake), 88 Keys (Mos Def, Macy Gray, Musiq Soulchild), Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra and Tone Whitefield.
A classically trained vocal veteran, Bilal released his debut album 1st Born Second in 2001, which boasted the popular single “Soul Sista.” The follow-up, Love for Sale (2006), was shelved but leaked entirely online yet was well received to fans and music critics and has become an underground classic. In the following years, Bilal has collaborated and performed with some of the industry’s most prominent artists including, Beyonce (Fighting Temptations), Common (Like Water for Chocolate, Electric Circus, Be, Finding Forever), Jay-Z (American Gangster), Erykah Badu (New Amerykah Part One, New Amerykah Part Two), Robert Glasper (All Matter), Boney James (Better With Time), Musiq (Soulstar) and The Roots among others. He also covered Radiohead’s “High & Dry” for the 2006 Radiohead tribute, Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads. Bilal also appears in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.
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