E for Exceptional Experience, E for Experiment, the Robert Glasper Experiment, for the record. It was clear enough from the beginning that this Experiment was about to deliver an unforgettable Experience to each and every single member of the audience. Opening the show for Robert Glasper & Co. the amazing american-born London-raised Vula Malinga of Basement Jaxx. The British singer mastered any possible vocal range as easy as drinking a glass of water, making herself very comfortable on the legendary stage of the Apollo and blessing the public with exemplary covers of great soul hits including Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It”. Vula is not only vocally talented, she has also a surprising stage presence and clearly knows how to interact with the audience, someone would say she’s got the X Factor, but she’s obviously too talented for any lame talent show. Simply, having her performing before Glasper was the most logical choice to “cook” the right alchemic recipe and prepare the public for what was next.
What was next was unexpected, at least for someone like me, who had never seen Glasper live. I like to think of Robert Glasper as a revolutionary of Jazz and Soul music – his hip hop “vocodered” version of “Smells like thin spirit” being the ultimate statement of his way of “making music out of the box“. A super-talented pianist and music polyglot, he was joined on stage by the rest of the Experiment, Casey Benjamin (saxophone/vocoder), Derrick Hodge (bass) and Mark Colenburg (drums) to deliver an enjoyable 2-hour show that unfolded into moments of pure mesmerising music and Glasper’s funny jokes with the public.
The evening got even more interesting when Glasper and his band were joined on stage in alternate order by 2012 revelation Emeli Sande, BRIT Awards nominated Laura Mvula and “the new Steve Wonder” Raheem Devaughn who delivered amazing vocal performances and allowed Glasper and his musicians to experiment and flow with the music even more, as if Benjamin’s “vocodered” performances, Colenburg’s unbelievable drum solos, Hodge’s straight jazz melodic soloing weren’t enough.
Definitely a great night, highly recommended for all those who enjoy when jazz meets experimental music.
Complete Set list:
Big Body Girl
Let it Ride (Mark Colenburg solo)
Lovely day/anytime any place (Derrick Hodge solo)
Worries / Woman (RAHEEM)
Calls (Laura Mvula)
AH YEaH (RaHeem on vamp)
Somebody Else (Emeli Sande)