Revive Premiere: Robert Glasper Performs "I Don't Even Care" Live + Talks Jazz Identity
It's clear by now that Robert Glasper claimed a key victory with Covered. By covering the much-beloved work of modern hip-hop, soul and rock acts (Joni Mitchell and Jhene Aiko both get their due), Glasper's new LP is a bold move away from the avant-R&B "Experiment" format and back to a traditional jazz trio format.
Traditional jazz has always been familiar ground for Glasper, who is a graduate from the New School in Manhattan and earned chops gigging relentlessly across New York City, toting his heavy rhodes piano through the subway system on an almost nightly basis. But in an exclusive interview with our dear friends Revive, Glasper admitted that he needed a bit of brushing-up before stepping into LA's Capitol Studios to record Covered, and so in order to get back into the trio groove the pianist booked a run of shows in Chicago with bassist Vincent Archer and drummer Damion Reid. Once he felt sure of his newly-reclaimed acoustic footing, Glasper next turned his mind to concept. "I didn’t want to do an album that was just jazz standards," the pianist told Revive. " I didn’t want to lose the big audience that I gained from my Black Radio albums. I wanted to please both sides of my audience — my jazz fans and my fans who know me for the Black Radio records. So did a record that both my Black Radio and my jazz audience can digest."
The balance that Covered strikes is ideal--Glasper has found a space that honors the songs' original renditions while still giving his trio plenty of open territory to map via jazz explorations. The album is a deep dive through a pinhole opening that requires a kind of genius to find, and across its twelve tracks we're treated to dense harmonies that arrive in patient strides, off-kilter rhythms and small melodic motifs so lovely they could only have come out of pure unbound improvisation.
Later in his Revive interview, Glasper reminisces on how hip-hop came to be a truly integral part of his sound:
I used to incorporate "Stakes Is High" back in 1999 during my gig when I was only playing to the waitress and the bartender. Hip-hop has always been part of my sound. Playing Dilla beats has always been part of who I am as a jazz musician. But that way of playing didn’t really exist until James Poyser came along. And James is really one of those trailblazers man who are really underrated.
Across the entire interview, Glasper offers us a look into his sense of self as a musician and the legendary importance of pianist Mulgrew Miller, the role of jazz music as a form of political protest against police injustice and why not loving Thelonius Monk might not be the end of the world. Revive was also fortunate enough to premiere a new live performance clip from Glasper, in which he and his trio perform "I Don't Even Care." Watch it below, pick up Covered on iTunes if you haven't already done so and then be sure to head over to Revive's exclusive interview to get an even deeper in-depth look at the mind of a modern jazz legend.