What an evening! The perfect mix for success inspiring minds young and old to grasp the extremes of the concept known as jazz. Extremes in the sense not to the degree of superior sonic tonality reached but, to the approach and the roads taken to derive at musical resolution.
Robert Glasper opened up the evening at Royce Hall as one of the many jazz performances that we can expect to see from the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. The audience was well attended and the paring of these two particular band could not have been better. The word “Jazz” is so subjective and as the years pass there are movements, shifts and nostalgic ideas about the perception of the sound of the music. Musicians and connoisseurs of jazz are either progressive in their approach to the art or relish the comforts of nostalgia in the vibrations of yesteryear with delightful updated nuances. We got a dose of both and hopefully open ears did not take sides and were able to feel and learn something from all roads that lead toward enlightenment.
Glasper is extremely proficient in his mastery and command of the piano but also humorous in the way that he expresses his underlying opinion of the music and the era that we live in now. He is a contemporary, born in a newer generation with different outlooks, experiences and influences that are just as valid as those of the elders. Yes, generally it is true that we learn from our elders and they are the “Wise Ones”. However, the scale tips both ways and new sounds, ideas and magnificence come from our youth. The truth is in the sound and not what knowledge that people have held on to for ages. Holding on to ones knowledge through the generations of time as the world turns towards eternity is equivalent to thinking that all music that is worth comes from the book of reality. There is more, and even though high school and collage are memories of the past, we are all students of life, and the music continues.
Derrick Hodge and Mark Colenberg comprise the remainder of the rhythm. Musical mantras, “Sexy” as Glasper would describe are the foundation for gorgeous layers of melody. Robert proceeds to play some of the old familiar standards and slowly fades the tunes as if to say, I know this is what is commonly played in jazz trio sets, but then blazes with the soul, style and energy of the next gen. It is a mixture of respect and subliminal progressive lessons to the world. He jokes about how he and Stevie Wonder wrote many tunes together and it was so much about the music and ideas that he was not worried about putting his name on the material. Fun and humor backed up by incredible trio wizardry. Herbie Hancock’s “I Have a Dream” was definitely stamped with a Glasper signature. What neo did for soul, Glasper brings to a new generation of jazz music.
Our second set was with legendary bass player Ron Carter. The classic quartet at its finest emanating nostalgic vibrations in every way! Renee Rosnes is melody, and for years has supported the the best in the music as well as leading phenomenal project of her own. Payton Crossley is a drummer that I am just getting to know and fits perfectly into the quartet as we make our acquaintance. Rolando Marales-Matos is a ray of happy sunshine. If his personality rivals his passion for percussion, he is one person you will want to meet and be your friend forever. You can tell that he is elated to be a wonderful and exciting element in the band and that he and Ron must enjoy a special music relationship.
Ron say’s that “One thing about being the leader of the band is that you get to be paid first and you get to play your favorites”. “My Funny Valentine”, “Moments Notice” and “You, The Night and the Music” were just a few of the standards that the quartet laid out for us to enjoy. Yes, we know the music and yes, this is classic jazz. Sort of in the same vein as Classical Music itself. We know the composers, the compositions, the melody, the haunting refrain and there is no fear down the road to resolve because we have been there before. Only with jazz, the musicians are always able to add the nuances and tweak the sound in the slightest of ways to add their version flavor to music. It allows for those who really know the music to discover new little gems and others not quite as knowledgeable to get a core lesson in the music with the sprinkles of ingenuity all mixed in.
The experience of both extremes allows you to get the spectrum of the music as a continuum from past to present or from the future back to classic sound. My suggestion is that you can stop and enjoy anywhere along the path. There is no time for retirement when it comes to enjoying a world of beautiful music. You can enjoy your house and your wonderful neighborhood where you feel nice and cozy but, we are all students in the world of sound. So, take some trips and broaden your horizon to get the full appreciation of what is, what was and what will be. That will be the best for the life of the music and the best for your life!