One artist, two distinct but interwoven concepts: This is the captivating logic behind Double-Booked, pianist Robert Glasper's third album for Blue Note, following up Canvas (2005) and In My Element (2007).
An artist who "unfailingly gets the feeling right" (New York Magazine), Glasper has made waves throughout the music world as leader of both the acoustic Robert Glasper Trio and the electric, hip-hop-oriented Robert Glasper Experiment. With Double-Booked, the 32-year-old Houston native puts his enviable versatility front and center, emphasizing these different hemispheres of his musical brain at the same time.
Career-wise, this creates a constant balancing act, and on occasion literally being double-booked, appearing with the trio and the Experiment on the same night. Such is the storyline that emerges on Double-Booked, with conflicting voicemail messages from Terence Blanchard and Roots drummer Ahmir Questlove Thompson, each pulling for a different Glasper band.
"Most people, if they have different bands, they do separate albums," says Glasper. "But I felt I'd be making more of a statement if I put it all on one joint." The result, in essence, is a snapshot of Glasper's life. "This is what I'm dealing with," he continues. "It's not like I play jazz but I also play hip-hop now and then. I'm in it, for real, both sides of the spectrum. That's my life. A lot of people go in stages-they might focus on trio for a long time, then they change or whatever. My thing is both, all the time."
The first six tracks on Double-Booked feature Glasper in trio setting with longtime bassist Vicente Archer as well as drummer Chris Dave, who plays in Glasper's Experiment band but recently came on board the trio as well.
Hailed by listeners and critics, Glasper has also garnered the respect of the toughest audience of all: musicians from across the jazz spectrum. In a May 2008 Blindfold Test for Down Beat magazine, a fellow pianist instantly identified Glasper and praised him as "a fantastic musician," pinpointing characteristics of his unique style: "a harmonic maze, but also an insistent rhythm, certain turns and filigrees and ornaments, some of them sort of gospelish."