Joined by a wide range of rappers and singers including Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Erykah Badu and Ledisi, with his band the Experiment he tears down musical divisions and challenges jazz people to face up to their preconceptions Exclusive Interview: Kevin Le Gendre.
The Barbican Thistle hotel always has a bustle in mid-November. Enter the foyer as morning gently gives way to the afternoon and you’ll see musicians cradling instrument cases, checking in or out, often under the maternal eye of an officious tour manager intent on ensuring that they either make a taxi for a gig that’s happening now, or a plane for one that’s later. Life becomes one long, ever-changing timetable.
Life becomes the London Jazz Festival. Which, for some artists, means gigs at several venues rather than a single appearance at the cultural cathedral with which the hotel shares its name. Last year Robert Glasper was very much in the former category, having master-blasted at XOYO and Kings Place and master-classed at the South Bank.
If the minor delay in his arrival for our meeting in the foyer could well be the effect of this intensely busy British sojourn, the 33 year-old pianist from Houston, Texas, is bearing up well. Clear of eye and warm of manner, he shows no obvious signs of an R&R deficit, but an action packed stay in an action stations metropolis is something to which he can relate, having recently completed his fifth studio album, Black Radio in Los Angeles. The whole set was recorded in five whirlwind days, during which some nine vocalists dropped by the studio to make contributions. Others emailed verse and chorus.
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