In My Element

Houston’s ROBERT GLASPER is a formidable piano talent with a penchant for lush harmony and mainstream jazz uncommon for a player in his twenties. Were that the whole story, you might lump him into the Wynton Marsalis tradition: fastidiously devoted to jazz history and short on innovation. Yet Glasper has also logged time with some of hip-hop’s finest, including Bilal and Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest). And, like fellow Houston pianist Jason Moran, his tastes range wide. If it hasn’t always been easy to discern these influences, IN MY ELEMENT (Blue Note) brings them to the fore. Glasper’s pieces are longer, and his trio (Vincente Archer on bass, Damion Reid on drums) tackles them with swagger. The opener, “G&B,” flies with a marvelously skittish rhythm, then breaks down as Glasper tears off single-note runs at bebop speed. Even when he covers Sam Rivers and the late J Dilla and mixes Radiohead with Herbie Hancock, Glasper is clearly onto something all his own.

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