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Issue 1084

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The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17

Robert Glasper: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Robert Glasper: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Robert Glasper: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Robert Glasper: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com The Robert Glasper Experiment: Somerset House, London 11/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com

Holding any outdoors event during the British summertime can be a gamble.

After a run of glorious evenings during the annual Somerset House music series, things went awry the night jazz genius and producer Robert Glasper hit the stage.

His Robert Glasper Experiment project is perhaps best known for the "Black Radio" albums, which features appearances from some of the biggest names in hip-hop and soul.

After a busy run of appearances all over the world, Glasper and his band played the historic London landmark, which this summer hosted shows from acts including Damian Marley, Norah Jones and Goldfrapp.

The weather may not have held up to its end of the bargain - "All I can see is umbrellas", said Glasper as he surveyed the crowd - but those who stuck around were treated to a show of the highest class, with plenty of surprises.

Effortlessly cool behind the keyboards, Glasper led a well-drilled outfit through an early version of "No One Like You", from latest release "ArtScience".

Multi-instrumentalist Casey Benjamin took centre stage early in the show, playing both the saxophone and keytar and showing that he can hold a tune vocally too.

Glasper's albums are characterised by the number of guest appearances, and this show was no different.

First up came British trio LuSharVu, who lent their luscious vocals to "Cherish The Day".

The next guest star was British singer Omar, who performed "Worries", from the "Black Radio 2" album. The rain may have been pelting down, but the sound from the stage was superb.

Laura Mvula was the next singer to make an appearance, performing a great version of "Calls", which was originally recorded by the band alongside Jill Scott.

Glasper certainly has an impressive contacts book, and proceeded to delight the crowd with an anecdote about how the band had recorded a demo version of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day". Within hours the soul legend himself was in the studio with them, he told the rain-soaked audience, having heard about the cover.

It got better when British soul royalty Corinne Bailey Rae emerged from the side of the stage to deliver a sublime version of the song. Her appearance had not been advertised in advance, and her appearance was greeted with a loud roar from the audience.

The weather may have thinned the crowd, but for those who stuck around, the show was one of the summer's highlights.

Glasper had one final surprise up his sleeve - he asked the audience if they were fans of J Dilla. He said he had another guest ready to come onstage, but teased the crowd by saying he'd forgotten his name.

It was a great moment when Common appeared, tearing up the stage to the fantastic "Theoloneous" from his "Like Chocolate for Water" long player.

LuSharVu then returned to the stage to accompany the band and Common to perform "The Light".

The track finished to rapturous applause, and the night was well worth the soaking.

The weather may have denied the band the audience they deserved, but it did not affect the quality of music from the stage. The band is well worth catching live.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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