ROBERT GLASPER / REVIVE YO FEELINGS | New York, Winter Jazz Fest

‘I’m a reasonable man: get off my case’ — the line is sung intermittently by Robert Glasper as he also attempts to communicate with various stage hands that the gear/soung set-up is not to his liking. He’s probably making thoroughly reasonable requests but this doesn’t get in the way of the juxtaposed comedy of the moment.

This first track of this evening’s set is from Glasper’s most recent album —the confrontationally named Fuck Yo Feelings— so begins a parade of talent and music to mark Revive Yo Feelings: A Musicians Wellness Benefit. As Terrace Martin observes during his guest slot, there are few peers in the jazz community capable of summoning quite so many artists under the same banner at a moment’s notice. This is one such night which includes guests vocalists such as Common and Yebba alongside Burniss Travis II on bass, Justin Tyson on drums and Jahi Sundance on the ones and twos. Tracks are interspersed with some of Glasper’s classic comedic musings from the mic. He also manages to bring this light-heartedness to the evening’s more somber subject matter saying that he was adamant he didn’t need therapy albeit at his first session the therapist ‘had me crying in 7 minutes’.

Collaborations are Robert Glasper’s and it’s almost expected that a late set of his at Winter Jazz Fest will attract some of the best talent in the city. For all the variety and chops on offer across the festival, smart money is to find which ever big-ish stage Glasper is on towards the end of the evening in the knowledge that those with the desire to jam and party will surely find their way there too. Taylor McFerrin’s beat-boxing starts to stretch the sound and when Terrace takes up residency on keys and vocoder the band takes on a different sort of momentum. Maybe part of this is the respect and rivalry that exists between celebrated artists sharing the same airspace and with Martin’s rise as a performer and producer it’s probably a useful heat for Glasper to feel given how out of reach he himself has been, flitting from jazz to R&B/hip-hop production and back.

There are moments at a Robert Glasper gig when it seems like he’s not trying. In fact, he’s definitely not trying, and he doesn’t have to try very hard to flex the prodigious talent has enabled so much success. Then there are moments when someone like Terrace inspires Rob to showcase what he can do with a single note, working it rhythmically and expressively as he plays the changes around it, doing more with a single note than most people can do with a full set of octaves at their disposal. By the time that Yebba arrives on stage to sing ‘Fuck Yo Feelings’ with her trademark beauty it should be clear to all in the room that these artists are capable of spinning golden wool from any substance of their choosing — and on a benefit night like this one, the substances that we are drawn to, what we choose to do with them and how it effects our wellness is exactly what we should be thinking of.

Winter Jazz Fest 2020 runs until 18 Jan across the city and for the first time in Brooklyn. More information about the benefit and musicians’ wellness can be found here.

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