Robert Glasper: Riot

Robert Glasper’s reputation as an entertaining character is earned yet again in his performance of Herbie Hancock’s "Riot," featured on Glasper’s 2005 release, Canvas. For most of the album, Glasper presents his originals in a trio format. Here, however, he adds saxophonist Mark Turner, whose lush sounds and springboard rhythms match Glasper’s vibe well. While preserving the spirit of the original, the musicians act as Herbie might have when he was a young musician in Miles’ group, transitioning effortlessly between different tempos and moods. In short, the track earns its title.

April 16, 2009 · 0 comments


Herbie Hancock: Riot

I love “Riot” from Speak Like a Child, and I also like a song from that record called “First Trip.” In fact, every tune on Speak Like A Child has something special—I love the whole date. Herbie sounds so exuberant. It has a personal association, because Mickey Roker, who played in Philly a lot, is the drummer, and his swing is so effervescent and so clear. As a young musician I would always ask him what it was like to play with Herbie on Speak Like A Child.

On "Riot” I like the marriage between a very sophisticated arrangement and a group structure in which a small ensemble is playing versus Herbie’s solo. There’s one moment when Herbie has finished the first part of the solo, the ensemble comes in, sets up the next part, and Herbie hits this perfect chord. You get the feeling that he’s reacted to what’s going on with the arrangement that he wrote, but also that he found this new area, and BOOM, he hit this chord and he’s off again. The rhythm section (Ron Carter is playing bass) is propulsive, it’s grooving in a sort of medium swing, and Herbie’s killing it—he’s playing one new idea after another, line after line after line, and it goes on and on. He combines a lot of the things that make his style so instantly recognizable—there’s the real bluesy feel and swinging touch, but he also puts in a lot of unexpected, quirky things, a lot of rhythmic devices that work against the swing, and then also he really is the master of setting things and using tension-and-release.

March 20, 2009 · 0 comments


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