Robert Glasper held a week-long residency at Blue Note last week, as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival. Over the course of his six-night stay, Glasper did shows with his trio, pianist Jason Moran, and the multi-talented Taylor McFerrin. Joining them for the entirety of the set was Bigyuki on bass synth and Marcus Gillmore on drums.
The quartet began with a highly improvised version of “Already There,” a track off McFerrin’s LP Early Riser that featured Glasper and Thundercat. Glasper was ripping the rhodes, Bigyuki getting funky on the bass synths and Gillmore kept remarkable time. McFerrin allowed most of the keys playing to Glasper for the majority of the night, but his soulful accents gave the tracks great depth.
It didn’t take long for Glasper to start inviting special guests to the stage. Christian Scott and Elena Pinderhughes were on deck to provide some incredible playing on the group’s second number. Scott plays with such intensity that the entire room was fixed on him during his solo, and Pinderhughes plays so wonderfully that her solo acted as a moment of pure bliss after Scott’s more rambunctious style.
Anna Wise came out to offer some vocals to “Untitled 05,” a Glasper contribution to the recent Kendrick Lamar b-sides compilation Untitled Unmastered. The songstress, who has been working with Lamar well before his profile raised to one of rap’s most iconic contributors, crooned the song’s chorus to much recognition from the crowd. Kendrick seems to be at the forefront of this jazzy hip-hop renaissance, paving the way for Glasper and Wise to enjoy crossover success through their collaborative works.
The final special guest brought to the stage was Dres from NYC hip hop outfit Black Sheep. The long running MC came up and spit words from the Black Sheep track “Forever Luvlee.” As he nears 50, Dres still rocks the mic with a laid-back flow that echoes the Native Tongues style he came up with.
Overall, it was an exhilarating evening of music from Glasper, McFerrin, Gillmore, Bigyuki, and all their special guests. With a ‘friends and family’ type of vibe, the energy was perfect and the music was exquisite. Hearing the insanely talented group of musicians improvise with each other was a truly special moment for all.