Robert Glasper

Pianist Four albums into an already intriguing career that's marked him as one of the top if unjustly underrecognized pianists in jazz, this Houston-born artist isn't a particularly "new" face. But Glasper's latest recording for Blue Note Records takes all he's accomplished somewhere new, and it's undeniably fascinating. Long straddling the worlds of acoustic jazz and hip-hop on recordings, particularly 2009's split recording "Double Booked," the upcoming "Black Radio" marks the first full-length album by the Robert Glasper Experiment, a group that lets the keyboardist's interest in hip-hop, soul and rock run wild with no regard for musical borders. A packed lineup of guest vocal turns by the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def and L.A.'s King might outrage purists looking for familiar swing and structure, but each successive listen reveals jazz firmly at his group's backbone with rich musical interplay and a fearless, uncompromising spirit. -- Chris Barton
Mike Schreiber / EMI Music
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