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The New Cool: Robert Glasper’s Soul Jazz Experiment


The Grammy award he received for his “Black Radio” album in 2012 was in the Best R&B Album category, but there’s a lot of jazz improvisation happening in the music of Robert Glasper.

A pianist with a style born in his mother’s Baptist Church, Glasper’s formative years as a music fan were smack in the middle of the height of rap and hip-hop music’s domination of the pop charts in the mid-90s. In fact, a classmate at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York was neo-soul singer Bilal, both of whom gravitated to hip-hop stars like Common, The Roots and producer J.Dilla.

His skills and thirst for musical freedom have led him to plenty of work as a jazz pianist, including early career opportunities with Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard and Roy Hargrove, Glasper has kept one side of his musical personality well connected to the music of his generation. Happily, that drive to explore different styles has always had a home in the world of jazz. He talks about being influenced by Miles Davis, “even just the psyche of how he thinks about music, and always wanted to reflect the times he’s in. That’s what I’m doing now.”

Listen for The Robert Glasper Experiment blending songs by his hero Herbie Hancock and pop giants Radiohead on The New Cool this Saturday afternoon, and enter to win tickets to see the Experiment unfold for yourself at The Neptune Theatre in Seattle’s U District next Thursday, December 15.

The New Cool airs Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.