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AUDIO: The Robert Glasper Trio – 2/11/12 – St. Louis, MO @ Jazz At The Bistro

Robert Glasper Trio 2/11/12 Improvisation > ?Improv?, You (Q-Tip cover)

When Robert Glasper arrived at St. Louis’ premier jazz venue, Jazz At The Bistro, he promptly apologized for twice canceling prior engagements at the club (one due to the birth of his child and another due to a call from Maxwell to go on tour). He more than made up for it with 2 sets of his pensive yet blissful piano playing. With him were fellow Houstonian Alan Hampton on upright bass and St. Louis native Mark Colenburg on the drum kit.

Glasper recounted how he met Colenburg back in 1999 at this very club and how he recommended Colenburg to Common for the Like Water For Chocolate tour. Quite expectedly, Colenburg showed and proved in his hometown with two snare drums, plenty of chops, and a heavy nod to J Dilla‘s fluid yet angular sense of rhythm.

With the news of Whitney Houston‘s unexpected passing, Glasper dedicated the first tune to her, beginning the 20+ minute piece with a meditative and lengthy solo piano improvisation. After a short “J Dillalude”, Glasper jokingly name dropped 11 of the 12 guests appearing on his new album, Black Radio, and reminded everyone that the new album drops in 2 weeks. In his words, “cop that”. He closed the early show by taking requests, to which at least two audience members immediately shouted “F.T.B.” without hesitation. When someone asked “what does it stand for?”, Glasper declined to answer, preferring to “keep it off record”. Your guess is as good as mine. Notably, the trio teased The Roots‘ Grammy award winning song, “You Got Me”, as the final notes of the set.

Playing to a totally different, and noticeably younger and whiter, crowd for the late show, the trio stretched out much further. The set began with 30 minutes of non-stop music that shifted from on point jazz changes to open solos to an improvisation in which Glasper took a candle holder from the front table and held it to the piano strings as he played. (In fact, this is the section you hear on the streaming audio, above). After an hour of mesmerizing sounds, as icing on top, the show closed with a vamped out instrumental version of Q-Tip‘s track “You” from The Renaissance album. Completely satisfied, the crowd didn’t push for an encore, content to disperse back out into the cold night.

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Robert Glasper Trio
February 11, 2012
St. Louis, MO @ Jazz At The Bistro
Source: internal mics > Tascam DR-2d > WAV > Cool Edit Pro > FLAC
Location: In my jacket pocket. Early show: 2nd table dead center. Late show: 2nd table slightly to the right.
Recorded by RLBayers for Funk It Blog (http://funkit.virose.net/).

Early Show: 7:30pm
01. Glasper speaks
02. Canvas (Dedicated to Whitney Houston) >
03. No Worries *
04. J Dillalude
05. Drum solo > F.T.B. > You Got Me outro

Late Show: 9:30pm
01. Glasper speaks
02. Rise And Shine > drum solo > bass solo > Improv # >
03. ???
04. Glasper speaks
05. Smells Like Teen Spirit [Nirvana]
06. G & B (inc. bass solo) >
07. I Have A Dream [Herbie Hancock] >
08. You [Q-Tip]

Robert Glasper: piano, fender rhodes (on F.T.B. only)
Alan Hampton: bass
Mark Colenburg: drums

* My batteries died so about 6 or 7 minutes is missing in the middle. The track fades in and out at 4min43sec.

# Robert asked the audience member at the front table for the glass candle holder (with the small lit candle in it), then Robert held the candle holder to the piano strings while playing.

Bilal 8/12/11 Indianapolis @ Madame Walker Theatre (VIDEOS)

This post is a guest review by Leo Weekly’s Damien McPherson.

The Madame Walker Theater is showing its age. The room dates back to the 1920s, but since its renovation in the late 70s, it appears little has been done to modernize the space (though their website does mention fundraising attempts). It’s still a beautiful building, wedged into its intersection on the edge of downtown Indianapolis, and the missing “K” on the rooftop’s sign at least gives a bit of personality even in the face of sadness at urban decay from historical sites.

Maybe I was looking a bit too closely, but by the time Bilal hit the stage, he looked pissed off. The sound in the room wasn’t great, and the 935-seater was barely half-filled (we sat in the sparsely populated balcony so as to give you the astounding visuals accompanying these words). One of the keyboardist’s platforms wasn’t plugged into the mix, leaving out many of the songs’ electronic bleeps and bloops and leaving room for a roadie to hover at the side of stage laying cable, distracting to say the least. The guitar amp failed during an early solo, and it appeared the drummer was having a monitor issue. It wasn’t until almost halfway through the show, during “Sometimes”, that what approximated a smile crossed Bilal’s mouth and he looked comfortable. None of this took away from his vocal performance, mind you, as the man is a machine. His perfectly controlled vocal abandon is one of modern music’s marvels: soulful, jazzy, and church-infected. The guy could sing Nickelback songs and sound like a genius (don’t prove that, though, please).

Something To Hold On To, Make Me Over, Gotsta Be Cool, Lord Don’t Let It, For You, Reminisce (flipped with the J Dilla “The $” beat), Fast Lane, Sometimes:

The first half of his set was split between his debut, First Born Second, and his shelved-but-leaked followup “Love For Sale”. He seems perfectly at ease on stage with the audience’s familiarity with the material they shouldn’t know, and proves himself a bigger man than me. I’d play half of one of those songs, and the second I spot someone singing along, I’d probably stop the song and ask for ten bucks from the person. Glad he didn’t, though, ‘cause I didn’t have any cash on me, much as he deserved it. “Fast Lane”, the non-representative first single from his debut, finally got the arrangement it deserved outside of its Dr. Dre studio sheen.

“Sometimes” is always a wonder, the little song that could. It was never a single, but the crowd demands it and sings along as if it were a standard. The second half of the set is mostly from his latest, Airtight’s Revenge, and the crowd wasn’t as responsive (though this was definitely a ‘giving’ crowd, very loose and supportive) to this material. “Little Ones”, dedicated to his autistic son, was a definite highlight, the emotional connection to the song a tangible thing. He closed the main set with the incredible “All Matter”. While I’m partial to the arrangement on Robert Glasper’s Double Booked, here he worked magic on his Airtight version. This song easily takes permanent residence in my favorite songs of the last decade. Just listen/watch.

Levels > All Matter:

Beggars not being choosy, the crowd’s response at this point didn’t really require an encore. They seemed to give up their cheering rather quickly. Thankfully, Bilal’s show is built for an encore, as he hadn’t performed his biggest song yet or this tour’s epic closer. “Soul Sista” melted every woman in the room, as it’s done for a decade now, while the Led Zeppelin cover “Since I’ve Been Loving You” melted the walls. A great quickie road trip, another excellent Bilal show (my second of this album cycle), and here’s a near perfect visual representation to enjoy. -Damien McPherson

Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin cover):