REVIEW: Robert Glasper Trio at Ronnie Scott’s

Robert Glasper Trio at Ronnie Scott’s
L-R: Glasper, Vicente Archer, Eric Lau, Damion Reid
Photo credit: Benjamin Amure

Robert Glasper Trio 
(Ronnie Scott’s, 12th August 2015. First night of three. Review by Tina Edwards)

Robert Glasper’s repertoire draws on a huge variety of musical references. He injected his dependable humour into last night’s set in the Ronnie Scott’s Piano Trio Festival, It’s certainly a bold musician who can journey from dipping for a moment into the famous Twilight hook to a progressive, lounging R&B groove in the space of just a few beats. Glasper also hinted towards Piano Man and Time After Time, to the delight of the good-humoured crowd who required no invitation to sing along. By contrast, a lounging adaption of Prince’s Sign O’ The Times was played with confident patience.

In Stella By Starlight Glasper’s right hand chased the percussion with spider-like movements, whilst Damion Reid’s brush strokes could have fooled you into thinking that flutter-tonguing was a percussive technique. Bassist Vicente Archer’s spotlight moment came with a rolling solo to open How Much A Dollar Cost.

Glasper took the chance to move away from the tunes on his recent album Covered (link to CD review below) to re-visit Canvas for Enoch’s Meditation. His distinctively delicate touch on the keys was expressive, but decks master Eric Lau added further context to the track, spinning a recorded narrative; “Some total has not yet been added up so let me tell you who I am… I am one of the ones of colour”. Faultlessly synced with the trio, this sound byte was one of the first to hint at a theme of racial identity running through the set. Ambrose Akinmusire’s Rollcall For Those Absent, which names young black men killed by the police, was spun by Lau over the trio’s interpretation of Kendrick Lemar’s Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst. This touching and deeply affecting statement left a lump in the throat.

In this way, skilled playing merged with social commentary, but there were also light-hearted moments and an achingly cool swagger. Glasper’s fast transitions from one recognisable tune to the next don’t just bring constant new glimmers of recognition to people with a broad knowledge of music, The surprising thing is that he also grants so many access points and moments to savour to those who don’t. His appeal is broad and this gig confirmed that.

LINK: CD Review of Covered

Categories: miscellaneous

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