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Reviews and dispatches from Montreal #FIJM 2022 (8): Photos of Robert Glasper at Théâtre Maisonneuve

Robert Glasper

(Théâtre Maisonneuve, 6 July 2022. MIJF. Photo-Essay using the official photos by Victor Diaz Lamich. Words by Sebastian Scotney)

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This was a particularly free-form evening. It started with the presentation of the Miles Davis Award to Robert Glasper. Maurin Auxéméry, director of programming for the Festival, presented the award, which has been in existence since 1994. He made the point that Robert Glasper was first presented at the festival in 2007, when he appeared at Gesu, and that the increasing size of venues in which he was played reflects the growth in his career.

Robert Glasper and Maurin Auxéméry. Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich/ FIJM

Glasper welcomed his daughter to run to the centre of the stage and into his arms. One sector of society that has benefited from the pandemic is the young children of musicians who would normally be touring.

Robert Glasper and his daughter. Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich/ FIJM

Those expecting instruments to be played had to wait their turn. We had a DJ set from Jahi Sundance for just over 20 minutes. And the first involvement of Robert Glasper was as singer rather than instrumentalist. Fans of Glasper’s singing will have had a good night; there was quite a lot of it. No setlist available, as fits the free-form style.

L-R: Jahi Sundance, Robert Glasper, Burniss Travis, Chris Dave. Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich/ FIJM

Until Burniss Travis had a solo feature he was very low in the sound mix. I enjoyed the band’s slow version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and an astonishing Nancarrow-ish piano solo from Glasper.

And the evening had its star. An ironic running gag re-appeared a couple of times through the gig, namely that “we couldn’t get a drummer so we ended up with this guy.” This guy being the great Chris Dave. And at one point Dave was subjected to being pitted against a drum machine to show that he could replicate the beats. Which he always did. The drummer, for me at least, provided most of the evening’s highlights. Martin Luther King’s words, field-recorded, obviously resonate powerfully too: “I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world.”

I did keep wondering if the natural habitat for this gig might have been a standing club rather than a seated concert hall….

Chris Dave. Photo by Victor Diaz Lamich/ FIJM