So yesterday after Courtney and I met with Juan Flores
and Miriam Jimenez Roman
to discuss their groundbreaking and oh so necessary Afro Latin Forum, I L-trained it west to the Highline Ballroom for the Robert Glasper Experiment with special guest Q-Tip (only after stopping by Better Burger
for some vege grub and hogging their sole bathroom while trying and failing to apply liquid eyeliner. Although I was once an expert, the skills have spectacularly devolved. But air kisses to the physically fit gay clientele for not evil-eyeing me when I finally emerged, liner smudges and all.) I interviewed show openers HEAVy Friday-the Q&A, featuring great photos by Rich
, is up over at my VIBE blog
-and they delivered a hyperkinetic, polished and confident performance that the Bad Plusish seated crowd didn't entirely seem to get. I enjoyed it though. I would have liked to get up and dance but the energy of the set up thwarted that impulse. Still, I rocked in my seat and thumped my arm rest from "p.r.i.tt.y Boy" to their cover of Pharoahe Monch's "Body Baby." Joshua Alston accompanied and likened Nicky, who contorted, posed, air cycled, and kicked off her shoes for a lap around the ballroom, to an aerobic instructor you cross your fingers that you don't get (I don't relay quotes well but it was fun-ny (that's a The-Dream
dash btw). Anyway, whether the Highline bought it (and HEAVy were selling CD's), them two, as Joshua noted, sold it. After a good pause, Robert Glasper and his experiment-Casey from HEAVy on saxophone, keytar and vocoder, Derrick Hodge of Terence Blanchard's quintet among other groups on Bass and Chris Dave on drums-took the stage. Hodge kicked it off with some flamenco ish, the gang joined in and eventually transitioned into loose interpretation of "Canvas", if I'm not mistaken, and then birdcalls figured in, supplied by whom or what I don't know. Dave's crowd pleasing drumming and Benjamin's vocodering were prominent but both I could have done with less (Dave's musical voice is overpowering, to me at least). 'Tip, whose mohawk I like despite their overness 'cause it's loose and sort of napped and probably 'cause he's Q-Tip, joined the fray by spitting a lil' vintage ODB and tore through "Find A Way," "Electric Relaxation," "Higher" (choice ad lib: "They so pimped up and angry-no bush neither") and "Fever." Mos Def, for whom Glasper has served as sideman and maybe musical director, was beckoned to perform by 'Tip and briefly did his thing and came back and performed "Black Radio" lovely for the encore. He also dared Glasper to rap: "When you gonna kick a verse hardcore jazz style?" Glasper acquiesced and had Mos, who kept yelling "Give it to 'em Rob" in stitches. And the highlight would be Bilal and Mos performing "Reminisce"; I don't ever get tired of that bassline. Bilal popped out his booth and just MURDERED IT.
PS-I spotted Algebra in Bilal's booth. What the hell is going on with her project?