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Robert Glasper releases long-awaited album, plays for Seattle fans this month

Robert Glasper
Mancy Gant
Courtesy of PDX Jazz
Robert Glasper

As a fitting close to Black History Month, Robert Glasper releases his Black Radio 3 album Feb. 25. The modern jazz icon leads his band at Seattle's Moore Theatre Feb. 27. New Cool host Abe Beeson has a preview of the album, nearly a decade in the making.

Seamlessly combining jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk and electronica, Black Radio 3 almost didn't happen. Glasper had moved on to other projects, including all-star groups Dinner Party with Kamasi Washington, R+R=Now with Christian Scott, and the Blue Note Allstars with Lionel Loueke. He'd also been making guest appearances and producing, writing and arranging in many contexts, including film and television.

Comparing the Black Radio series to the Rocky movies, Glasper had long told fans the project's time was past. During the pandemic, though, the demand grew more intense, and the album's journey began.

Robert Glasper - Better Than I Imagined ft. H.E.R., Meshell Ndegeocello

First single "Better Than I Imagined" preceded the album by more than a year. Released in the summer of 2020 and featuring guest singers H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, it earned Glasper a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song.

Rapper D Smoke and singer Tiffany Gouché starred on second single, "Shine." Rapper Common and singer Jennifer Hudson highlight the diverse array of world-class collaborators on Black Radio 3. Talented guests from the jazz world include Grammy winners Esperanza Spalding and Gregory Porter.

Lyrically, Glasper's emphasis wasn't political. Though the new single "Black Superhero" speaks to the struggle of the underclass, he tried to steer clear of negativity.

"The songs speak about love because a lot of people, I've realized, want the escape. They put on music to escape CNN and Instagram and Facebook and all those things where all you see is all the negativity around us."

Glasper rebooted his month-long residency at the Blue Note in New York last October for a third year in 2021. In 66 shows over 33 nights in the center of the jazz universe, most of the Black Radio 3 guests were able to join Glasper on stage.

The lineup for the current tour hasn't been announced. But the Moore Theatre concert, just two days after Black Radio 3's official release, will surely be as cool as modern jazz gets.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.

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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.