So this time around, after so many different projects with guest singers and what have you, the Experiment is back to its core design: all four artists have written tracks for the new album and all of them take over vocal duties, too. Robert Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge (also with a new album out), drummer Mark Colenburg, and saxophonist Casey Benjamin come up with an eclectic mix of jazz, soul, r’n’b, funk, disco, and electro.
The experimental “This Is Not Fear” makes way for an 80s-sounding “Thinkin Bout You” with the leader on alienated vocals and with a heavy touch of thick keyboard sounds coming right ouf the mid-to late 80s. And there is a heavy dose of disco on “Day To Day” which features Casey on vocals and keyboards and which reminds me of some of Herbie Hancock‘s best records from, again, the 80s. The track has an irresistible hook. It’s a stunner and ends with a lengthy instrumental groove that even features some cool fake strings.
Casey is also featured on soprano sax on “No One Like You”, the nine-minute plus opus which also features Robert soloing on piano over a rock-influenced hip hop/breakbeat groove. The tempo is down for the first time on “You And Me”, one of three tracks written by all four members and bringing us a veritable r’n’b groove ballad. One of two cover songs on the album is Herbie Hancock‘s “Tell Me A Bedtime Story”. I think the Quincy Jones version from his “Sounds…And Stuff Like That!!!” LP from 1978 just cannot be topped, but this interpretation is full of melting Rhodes and fitting vocoder sounds.
“Find You” is simply not for me; too much noise and rock guitar (Mike Severson) destroy this piece. Tempo changes a few times on the very cool and chilling “In My Mind” where Casey can be heard on alto and which ends in a somewhat muffled sound. “Hurry Slowly” is another Casey Benjamin-written track and makes me wonder when he is going to release his own album. His songwriting and composing skills are simply sensational. And in this case, there is more than one Stevie Wonder moment without cheaply covering the master though.
Brilliant pop sounds reminding me of the best years of The Police are featured on “Written In Stone”. Combining the lush and luxurious 80s soul ballads of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis with vocoder vocals, the sexy ballad “Let’s Fall In Love” is certainly one of the highlights of the set. And speaking of Jam & Lewis, one of their 80s hit records was “Human” by The Human League” which is closing this 12-song set on an eerie and entrancing note.
Don’t miss the Robert Glasper Experiment on tour:
10/02 Atlanta, Chattahoochie Hills
10/03 New York, Bowery Ballroom
11/01 Stockholm, Kägelbanan Södra Teatern
11/03 Amsterdam, Paradiso Noord
11/04 Ingolstadt, Jazzfest
11/06 Lustenau, Reichshofsaal
11/07 Hamburg, Mojo Club
11/08 Berlin, Yaam (with Christian Scott)
11/09 Leverkusen, Jazztage
11/10 Basel, Kaserne
11/12 Milan, Teatro dell Arte
11/13 Leuven, Het Depot
11/14 London, Koko
11/15 London, Koko
11/16 Manchester, Band On The Wall
11/17 Gateshead, Sage
11/18 Hull, Truck Theatre
11/19 Bristol, The Lantern
11/20 Birmingham, Town Hall
11/21 Paris, La Cigale
11/22 Barcelona, Luz de Gas
11/24 Madrid, Jazz Festival
11/25 Zaragoza, Festival de Jazz
11/26 Albacete, Jazz Albacete
11/28 Bucharest, Sala Radio
11/30 Istanbul, Babylon Bomonti