Chris Daly has transitioned to cut-offs and jorts.
On ArtScience, his 473rd release of 2016, Robert Glasper puts forth possibly his best work of the year, if not the Robert Glasper Experiments’s entire discography. OK, so maybe the man hasn’t been quite that busy, but between his Miles Davis work, solo albums and playing on seemingly every single Blue Note release, the man does not lack for creative outlets, though I have to imagine he probably could use a few more hours of sleep from time to time.
In large part, it’s the overall upbeat, buoyant sound that makes ArtScience such a joy to listen to. The Experiment obviously has been successful, winning multiple Grammys for the Black Radio projects, but those albums were as much about the other people involved—whether it was the artist being covered or the guest vocalist taking the spotlight—that seemed to be the focal point of those albums.
Here, the boys in the band—keyboardist Robert Glasper, saxophonist and vocalist Casey Benjamin, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Mark Colenburg—take center stage. Now, I don’t know if someone in the band recently got laid or fell in love or found his freak of the week, but ArtScience tackles love in all its glory.
While there is some discussion of previous relationships not working out, this is a celebratory joint pretty much from beginning to end. This is music that speaks to those first few weeks/months of a new relationship, when things are new and fresh and everything is exciting and possible. You know, the point where your friends refuse to hang out with either of you because your “new love” is treacly to the point of Diabetes inducing.
Following the funk freak out opener, “This Is Not Fear,” the album settles into a distinct groove. To attempt to quantify Glasper’s style, genre, whatever, is a fool’s errand, as there’s a bit of everything here: jazz, R&B, hip-hop, funk, soul, and I’m fairly confident a kitchen sink. The one thing that does run throughout, however, is the downright happy atmosphere it produces. Some greater power probably should be reprimanded if tracks like “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You,” “No One Like You,” and “Let’s Fall In Love” don’t eventually take their rightful places being spun at innumerable school dances, backyard BBQs and weddings.
Let’s face it, 2016 has kind of sucked. Prince OD’d, everyone was sick of this election cycle two years ago, cargo shorts apparently have gone out of style—it’s been tough on a lot of us. Thank the Based God, we have cats like the Robert Glasper Experience to remind of that life has its wondrous moments, too.