Wednesday, April 18, 2012

IS ROBERT GLASPER A SELL-OUT?



I listened to your new album “Black Radio.” I couldn’t get into it. Some music writers have raved about it. Will Hermes of Rolling Stone gave it four stars, and Veronica Grandison of the popular music blog Roots, Rhythm, and Rhymes praised it, and your recent show at the Museum of African-American History.

The neo-soul treatment of Kenny Dorham’s classic “Afro-Blue” was the only cut on "Black Radio" I enjoyed. I’ve heard many versions of it, but none hipper than Erykah Badu’s. "Black Radio” comes across as an homage to your neo-soul pals Musiq Soulchild, Ledisi, and Bilal.

I understand jazz musicians of your generation--Gretchen Parlato, Esperanza Spalding, Ben Williams and Karriem Riggins--want to break new ground. All of you were influenced by R&B, neo-soul, gospel, hip-hop, and classical music.  

I dislike jazz mix with other genres. Maybe that makes me a jazz purist. Grandison wrote a jazz purist would have a problem with "Black Radio". She was right. Appealing to a hipper demographic is okay. You have the right to do so, but I wonder if you’ve lost the fans who supported your straight ahead jazz albums “Canvass” and “In My Element”. Hell, do you even care?

I wonder if those fans consider you a sell-out now. Disgruntled fans are quick to use that epithet. Honestly, I know you can still play straight ahead jazz. Your performance on Bob Hurst’s album “Unrehursted Volume Two" proved that. I like the old Robert Glasper. The neo-soul Glasper will take some getting used to.

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