b. 1978, Texas, USA. Raised in Houston, Texas, Glasper took an early interest in music and began playing piano under the approving eye of his mother who played piano for the local church. She also led a small band that played jazz and blues. By the age of 12, Glasper had begun playing piano in that same church and developed not only his playing skills but also a thorough understanding of the emotional roots of gospel, blues and jazz. His piano playing developed during his school years, a school friend was future R&B singer Bilal, and he later attended Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts. There, he met drummer Damon Reid with whom he built a mutually beneficial musical association. After graduation, Glasper went to New York where he studied at New School University in Manhattan. During his time there, he had occasional opportunities to play with musicians such as Kenny Garrett, Russell Malone and Christian McBride. Remaining in the city, Glasper later found work in various settings, playing engagements and sometimes recording with bands led by trumpeters Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton and Jeremy Pelt and with singers Carmen Lundy and Carly Simon. He played and recorded with bass player Robert Hurst’s trio, a group of which Reid was also a member, and with guitarist Mark Whitfield.
For Glasper’s 2004 debut album, he brought in Hurst and Reid, this giving the recording a secure base from which to develop a pleasing set. Although rooted in the jazz piano tradition of musicians such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, Glasper brings to his playing elements of the hip-hop and alternative rock music that surrounded him as a child. He continued to work with Bilal thus adding yet another layer. The manner in which Glasper has developed a broad repertoire that appeals to a wider audience than is usual for a jazz pianist of his generation made him a potentially high profile artist and he attracted the attention of Blue Note Records. Signed by the label in 2005, Glasper took the opportunity of his second album to put on display his composing skills. On this set, with the piano-bass-drums format expanded on occasion by Bilal and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, Glasper ranged through the many styles that form his musical background.