Some of you don’t know what the meaning of “Slept On” is, so the easy way to say it is with this latest release of musical genius (and newest member of the Soulquarians, I can pretty much say) Robert Glasper and his crew. These guys have been slept on for years now, and have brought us exuberant tracks, such as their cover of Radiohead’s Everything In It’s Right Place.
But today, we have Robert Glasper’s newest release; a two disc album entitled Double Booked. Hailing from the syrup capitol of the world, this Houston born jazz monster brings forth talent and creativity that I believe has been missing in my collection of off the wall versions of the genres many artists represent. Blue Note Records have been putting out great albums for decades (Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and Sonny Clark just to name a few) now, and this year is going to be another heavy hitter.
Disc one is The Robert Glasper Trio, comprised of Robert, Vicente Archer on bass, and Chris Dave on the drums; while disc two feature the The Robert Glasper Experiment comprised of Robert, Derrick Hodge on the bass, Chris Dave again on drums, with Casey Benjamin bring the sax and vocoder to the table. These guys are all top notch, and what I would like to classify as The Mars Volta of jazz.
I loved the feel of the album, with both discs starting with a phone call. The first is with Terrence Blanchett, who talks business about confirming the trio coming through to his club to play. The other is with Questlove (aka Questso, aka Amir) of The Roots asking the Experiment to come play at the Highline with them, Mos Def, and Bilal. Let it be said that all those aforementioned people are part of the Soulquarians…I’m just saying.
Let’s get into the best tracks of this release with spoiler alert: one of the tracks being on my list of the best tracks of the year. We runnin’ this, let’s go.
No Worries, the second track on the first disc gives that feel of being in the audience, with the announcer introducing the group, and giving a round of applause before kicking into a smooth groove. I felt like the piano would subtly spill over the track, as a classy glass of brandy spills over the lip. Truth be told though, I felt the urge to do the Pee Wee Herman dance around the room, or get down like Bill Cosby at the beginning of his show. It began slowly and all the instruments picked up energy throughout the middle, before settling down to land like a feather and fading out.
I got a hip hop infused vibe after the wild piano intro of track six on the first disc, Think of One. This one was very easy to nod your head too, with silly piano breakdowns throughout the song. There were also lingering moments and jazz heavy bass fills to keep the song softly afloat, before returning to its heavier moments of hip hop beat formation.
On disc two; after checking his messages and doing a sound check with Mos Def, the Experiment does an excellent cover of Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly for their second track. The original framework was kept, along with the eerie voice manipulation; but new is the insane drum work of Chris Dave, tearing the song to shreds several times over.
The most psychedelic track award goes to Festival, the third track on the second disc. The song is literally everywhere. Some parts are slow and jazzy, other parts pure insanity. Casey Benjamin tears it up throughout the middle of the track, and even has a badass solo near the six minute mark. I loved the idea of everyone breaking away to do their own thing in the track, then coming together again to match notes with drum hits.
As always, I saved the best track for last. Neo soul expert Bilal joins up with the experiment to give us a life lesson in the song All Matter. The lyrics stick in my head when I think about defining love, and may even be…dare I say, inspirational? Anywho, the bass in this song floats along gently the entire time, staying on the low end most of the time, with the piano being played by Glasper in what has to be one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time.
Bilal is a true talent, and this track brought out new appreciations for him. While slight, the drum work from 3:13 to 3:18 is the part of the song I rewind back through the most. It’s so good; you can even hear someone in the background mutter at how fresh it was, during this perplexing mid-song segment. This intense track easily catapulted itself into my list of the best songs of the year; just give it time and you’ll agree.
Robert Glasper did it again, with a refined power unlike anything I have heard in the jazz world. Originality seems fewer and farther between these days, but with this dual album, I feel like the world will wake up off one of the most talented musicians that have ever been slept on.
Robert Glasper’s Double Booked hits stores today, and I will file this under the must have albums of the year for you music aficionados out there. I’ve had the album quite some time thanks to Cem K. at EMI, and couldn’t wait to get this one out there for you all.
Until next my friends, just remember, it’s all matter,