Jazz Notes / Record Bulletin

Robert Glasper and Mumford & Sons – Reviews

robert-glasper-everythings-beautifulROBERT GLASPER – Everything’s Beautiful (Blue Note): I know I’ll be vilified for this, but I feel that, for example, the way Madlib fucks around on the opening track of Madvillainy—with its cut-and-pasted vocal samples from random vintage flicks, sporadic bass droplets, muffled horns, and comical narration—is an infinitely more listenable sample of what an avant garde hybrid of hip-hop and jazz could be if played out at length. Kamasi Washington’s ultra-ambitious, out-the-gate near-masterpiece The Epic is so successful in part because it’s so audacious and unsafe—even the pockets of time that obviously don’t work in the 173-minute opus are admirable in that the failure is embraced however consciously or unconsciously. But Robert Glasper has always taken the road of trying to meld an elevated form of elevator music with regular old plain-Jane hip-hop, the results of which pretty much always sound like a slightly jazzier version of contemporary R&B that the Roots did better in their tossed-off Home Grown volumes ten years ago. I don’t mean to be too down on Glasper—he’s clearly a very talented guy whose knowledge of jazz as it stands now will eclipse my entire life’s journey—but I wish he’d do something really daring. Grade bumped for (unfortunately) good intentions. B

mumford-and-sons-johannesburgMUMFORD & SONS WITH BAABA MAAL, THE VERY BEST & BEATENBERG – Johannesburg (Island EP): Formed in 2007, their first studio album released in 2009, two others released in 2012 and 2015, a slew of studio EPs, two full-length live albums, numerous live EPs, and for what? Some bands put out a lot of product because they’re prolific, but Marcus Mumford seems satisfied spitting up a disc anytime he gets near a microphone. The best service he provides is introducing his fans to music they otherwise wouldn’t hear, in this case Senegalese singer Baaba Maal. (Previously it was Dharohar Project, whom I can find nothing about outside of that EP.) I recommend Firin’ in Fouta, which I came across years ago when I stumbled upon a large trove of African music. I do not recommend Mumford and Sons’ albums, to which I have been overly generous. Grade bumped for (hopefully) good intentions. B

Related:

The Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP (Blue Note ’12)B PLUS (*)
The Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio (Blue Note ’12): B PLUS (**)

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind (Glassnote ’15): B PLUS (*)
Mumford & Sons – The Road to Red Rocks (Glassnote ’13): B PLUS (*)
Mumford & Sons – Babel (Glassnote ’12): B PLUS (*)
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (Glassnote ’09)B PLUS (**)

 

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