Robert Glasper: Of Dreams to Come


Of Dreams to Come


Robert Glasper (piano)


In My Element (Blue Note 78111)

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Robert Glasper (piano), Vicente Archer (bass), Damion Reed (drums).

Composed by Robert Glasper


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, September-November 2006


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

The great jazz soloists speak with their own distinctive cadences, and to the sensitive listener these are as identifiable as the familiar sounds of a friend on the phone. We don't need to see them to know who they are -- they announce it in every phrase. Many of my favorite solos talk to me in similar terms, so close to human speech that I can almost hear the words. Some exhort in high-flown phrases while others whisper a beguiling invitation, or take on some other distinctive attitude and voice.

Robert Glasper's tone is one of gentle insistence. He has a way of asserting himself forcefully at the keyboard, but in a way that is persuasive rather than overwhelming. He often allows his volume at the piano to drop below the level of the bass and drums -- almost as if he is speaking to himself and forcing the audience to listen closely if they hope to overhear what he has to say. But when he has brought everyone into his inner circle, he lets loose with his long twisting and turning phrases, reeling us in further. I am reminded of the rope tricks the cowboys still use in Glasper's home town of Houston to lasso the cattle. Glasper will grab you and tie you up in the same way.

"Of Dreams to Come" is a good example of Glasper's artistry. He waits until we are relaxed and comfortable with the gentle flow of the music, and then . . . phewww!  Everything lifts off to another level, and even if the journey gets bumpy and dangerous we are definitely along for the ride. This ability to shape and build an entire performance sets Glasper apart from the pack. This is a strong offering from a talented artist who will probably have more surprises for us in the future.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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