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Robert Glasper Trio promises more than just jazz

Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.

By Halley Freger

The Robert Glasper Trio is playing a show at Grinnell tonight, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Unlike most shows hosted by Grinnell Concerts, this show will not be in Gardner Lounge, a dorm basement, but rather in the beautiful Sebring-Lewis Hall, a seemingly fitting location for a Grammy Award-winning artist. In fact, this show is unlike most Grinnell Concerts shows in a number of ways.

Although Grinnell Concerts has hosted many artists with jazz influences — just last week we brought Xenia Rubinos, who is trained as a jazz vocalist — we have never had a classic jazz trio. A jazz trio is a group of three jazz musicians, often a pianist, a double bass player and a drummer.

But this isn’t just any jazz trio — this is the project of renowned jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper. Joined by drummer Damion Reid and bassist Vicente Archer, Glasper creates spellbinding jazz, driven by his skillful piano playing. An innovator, Glasper is not afraid to explore different sounds and genres, as the Trio has shown by covering artists from Radiohead to John Legend. With his other project The Robert Glasper Experiment, Glasper pushes the boundaries of jazz to an extreme, exploring aggressive sounds in a combination of neo-soul, hip-hop, gospel, rock and R&B.

With music, we are constantly categorizing. We imagine a concert in a basement as being much different than a concert in a fancy performance hall. But what kind of music belongs in each space? By collaborating with, producing and covering popular music artists, Glasper troubles our understanding of strict genre divisions. Although he is a jazz pianist, he has worked with a number of artists within hip-hop and R&B, including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Mos Def and Q-Tip. He was featured prominently on Kendrick Lamar’s highly acclaimed 2015 release “To Pimp A Butterfly.”

Jazz isn’t just a genre our parents listen to — it’s part of our favorite hip-hop albums. Glasper plays a prominent role within hip-hop music, pulling hip-hop influence into his jazz music and jazz influence into the hip-hop music of the artists he collaborates with. Yes, this concert will be in a concert hall and feature a jazz trio, but it’s also closely tied to music made in basements and clubs.

You don’t want to miss this show. Come hear Glasper’s innovative jazz tonight. This is a ticketed event, so don’t forget to pick up a ticket at the Box Office in Bucksbaum, open from 12-5 p.m. on weekdays.

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