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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015 17:13

Robert Glasper Trio – Covered

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Glasper reunites with his Trio after the success of the Black Radio albums

The Robert Glasper Trio – with Vicente Archer on bass and Damion Reid on drums - is back, reuniting after Glasper’s two Black Radio albums. The new album was recorded live in Capitol Studios.

Jazz is not just music – it Is an attitude to life, a way of expression, a language. The Trio speaks jazz perfectly, of course, and Covered is simply outstanding; a demonstration of a multitude of talents, but most of all, of Glasper’s way of presenting us with such musical gems.

These are covers of well-known pieces - from Musiq Soulchild’s So Beautiful to the beautiful jazz standard Stella by Starlight (written originally by the great and precocious Victor Young and featured in the 1944 ghost film, The Uninvited).

On the track Intro, Robert explains briefly that Covered is something not just straight jazz, but “a nice happy medium” comprising of songs he likes from all sorts of different genres. This is, in a few words, Covered ‘uncovered’ - but to all Robert Glasper’s fans and new ones, too, Covered is more, so much more.

I Don’t Even Care was originally a bonus track on Black Radio 2, and features Macy Gray as well. I cannot hide the fact that I absolutely love Macy Gray and so when listening to the track, my mind finds itself travelling long distances - flowing, running, but also relaxing. 

It is utterly refreshing to listen to a piece of music, maybe something we have known previously, maybe not, and to be able to listen and not just hear it. In Case You Forgot is a stunning treat at thirteen minutes. Here the Trio interweaves melody with solos that are neat and precise. Vicente’s bass and Damion’s drums perform fantastically up-tempo, and their solos are awe-inspiring - but then Robert sneaks in quietly with the main theme and there they are, re-united in madness. If one listens attentively, one can also hear quotes from other songs.

The beauty of an album like Covered is not just its sheer music, but the innovative talent that goes with it. The creative modus operandi behind this work is unique, and just what the jazz scene needs - a kick up the derriere to wake us all up.

Got Over is only a short piece, but Harry Belafonte’s voice touches one deeply, his words poignant yet sharp. “Defying the rules”, to quote Harry, doesn’t just mean being destructive, but also challenging one self, improving all the time. How true in the case of Covered!

 

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