Robert Glasper Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Robert Glasper Trio 

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The New York jazz scene isn't lacking for wunderkind pianists, but even so Robert Glasper has grabbed headlines: though he was only 26 when Canvas (his second record and first for Blue Note) came out last fall, his playing is marvelously mature. Most of the album couldn't quite match the opening track, "Rise and Shine," but that's what he gets for leading off with a solo statement so inventive and commanding that musicians twice his age would have happily called it their own. Glasper has a sharp ear for color and a refreshingly open-minded melodic language. Like many skilled young keyboardists, he was raised on both jazz and hip-hop, and he'll adeptly cross-reference the two by, say, blunting the harmonies and darkening the textures of a jazz ballad. But he's just as willing (and able) to focus on the unique characteristics of one idiom or the other, and he's also begun to address the harmonic and rhythmic innovations of his fellow Houstonian Jason Moran. Glasper's earliest obvious reference points seem to be Mulgrew Miller and Keith Jarrett, which makes him an especially good example of what I guess we should call the post-postmodern pianist: he's part of a generation that grew up thinking of modernists like McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock as the old guard, the way previous generations viewed Teddy Wilson and Nat Cole. He'll be joined by the same musicians who played on Canvas: bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid. See also Saturday and Sunday. Fri 2/10, 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $25.

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