Hollywood, CA — When your name holds this much weight, opening at the Hollywood Bowl is a walk in the park. Grammy Award winning keyboard player and record producer Robert Glasper joined Jill Scott for the LA Phil’s 2017 Jazz at The Bowl Summer Series. The pairing seemed like a perfect match as they previously collaborated on “Calls,” featured on the critically acclaimed Black Out album. With a sold out night ahead of him, Robert and the members of The Robert Glasper Experiment took to the Bowl’s stage.
“If you don’t love it we’ve already got your money, so…,” Robert joked before grabbing the audience’s attention with his sublime sonics. The six-part band mixed harmonies of R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Psychedelic Funk effortlessly, leaving onlookers in a trance. As this was my first time witnessing The Experiment in action, I found myself entranced as well. During the ensemble’s 45 minute set, each member of the band held it down during their solos showing off the mastery over their instrument and, as a collective, their foundation and groove were solid.
With nine studio albums and a plethora of music credits with esteemed recording artists (Common, Anderson Paak, Mac Miller, Laura Mvula, Terrace Martin, and the list goes on) Robert isn’t new to the industry. But opening up for Ms. Scott at the Hollywood Bowl surely helped introduce his music and musical styles to a larger audience.
Celebrating the success of his latest album, Black Out 2, Robert asked the crowd if they were able to finish the lyrics to one of his songs. Confident and willing to participate, the audience yelled out in unison, but when put to the test they failed miserably. “I still gotta pay my dues,” Robert said taking no offense to everyone’s lack of knowledge. I have little doubt that the next time Robert plays this game with the audience, those lyrics will be known in full.
Towards the later part of his set, before the band started playing “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)”, he loosened up behind his keys, leaned into the mic, and announced that “I’m going to try to sound like Ledisi if I can”. As he opened his mouth, the soulful sounds of a siren filled the venue. To the delight of the audience, emerging from the shadows of stage wings after a couple bars, the powerhouse singer Ledisi joined Robert and company on stage.
“Gonna Be Alright” came at the perfect time. The song’s title and lyrics assisted in lifting our spirits after what we have seen take place in this country over the last few weeks. After Ledisi’s exit, Robert mimicked emcee Lupe Fiasco. Two surprise guests in one night! We were definitely in for it. Lupe performed his hit single, “Kick, Push” and helped The Robert Glasper Experiment close out their set by reminding us all just how much winning we had witnessed, “Everyone on the stage at one point in time has won a Grammy together.”
On this night, we were all winners.
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— Malikka Michelle (@malikkamichelle) August 17, 2017