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On the Record with Robert Glasper 

"If you're not an actual jazz musician, I can tell by the first measure that you play."

Robert Glasper

Photo courtesy of JoeyL

Robert Glasper

Pianist Robert Glasper won the Best R&B Grammy for 2012's Black Radio, which skillfully combined his jazz pedigree with hip-hop grooves. The follow-up, Black Radio 2, takes label Blue Note even further into R&B, with guests like Snoop Dogg and Jill Scott. But don't call Glasper a crossover artist: He's playing what he feels.

How do you recreate the album live?

For the most part it's just my band, the four of us. [Saxophonist Casey Benjamin] also plays vocoder. So we choose certain songs that sound good with the vocoder. We like to feed the [audience's] brain with stuff that they're not used to, show that we understand and love all the genres. We want to give you a little jazz, R&B, hip hop and a little rock.

How are you able to blend these styles?

I started off with jazz before I played hip hop. You already have to study your instrument for years and be pretty damn good to play jazz. A lot of other people start off with hip hop or R&B and then get into jazz. But you just can't get into it and scrape the surface. If you're not an actual jazz musician, I can tell by the first measure that you play.

How does it feel being on Blue Note, which brought us people like Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill?

Those are people who shaped who I am.  To take what they have given me and produce my own thing with their influence is amazing.

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