30 August 2009 - Le Poisson Rouge, New York / Word and Pictures by Thomas Hauner
Robert Glasper’s album release party was a study in the dynamics of contemporary jazz. Flexing the genre’s malleability as well as his own, Glasper showed off his abilities as both trio leader and experimental hip-hop group collaborator. As he often does on his new album Double Booked, Glasper would either seize each ensemble’s melodic reins or demurely diffuse his harmonies into the underlying cadences, as led by drummer Chris Dave and bassists Vicente Archer (acoustic) or Derrick Hodge (electric) depending on the outfit. In fact, Glasper receded too regularly into the background while playing in the trio but it’s a tendency whose success depends on taste. For fans favoring the Experiment, it allowed Dave to take commanding solos that inverted the possibilities of his small kit. For fans favoring Glasper’s prominence, there were never enough moments of aleatory but refined solos. Everyone, however, appreciated Glasper’s disarming approach to both sets (one with each setup.) Not unlike le Poisson Rouge’s own dressing down of classical music and jazz, it was a reassuring approach to an ostensibly imperious art.