Robert Glasper's debut as a leader displays his immense talent in full force as a legitimate original modern jazz voice. The majority of selections are with a trio, perfectly suiting his inclination to improvise, and hints at the hip-hop rhythms of his generation. The clear highlight is his bomb virtuosic interpretation of "Blue Skies." Ideas flow into infinity, he's insanely inspired, with bright melodies bursting like a supernova. He uses chord substitutions liberally and during an unaccompanied bridge, his emotions burn at length. He extrapolates on four notes to a millionth degree for the original "'Lil Tipsy," varying tempos, sometimes dizzying, in measures of four and six. "In Passing" is another original composition, a sweet waltz displaying a fine original melody with elements recalling McCoy Tyner. Vocalist Bilal is on the mystery train for the 12/8 modal ritual, invocation, spiritual, quite different take on "Maiden Voyage," which identifies Glasper's overall sound as reverent, pastoral, and challenging. In addition, there's the stripped and deconstructed version of "Alone Together," and two quintet tracks, with twin tenor saxes for the hard bop number "L.N.K. Blues," and the serene, beautiful title cut with tenor and guitar. The interplay between Glasper and bassist Bob Hurst should be simpatico and it is, they've played together a lot, while Damion Reid more than holds up his end on drums in a sensitive manner. All in all, a fine first offering with loads of potential. In a way, Glasper is in many ways reinventing the piano trio aesthetic, and time will tell whether it wears well and progresses.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos