Jazz pianist Robert Glasper to play SFJazz Center
Keyboardist Robert Glasper figures there’s no such thing as too much soul.
After his unexpected 2013 Grammy Award for best R&B album, he’s following up on Oct. 29 with “Black Radio 2.” A gifted jazz pianist who grew up in Houston playing in church, Glasper broke into the world of R&B and hip-hop in the late 1990s with Bilal, and went on to collaborate with artists such as Kanye West, Common, Maxwell and Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def).
He brings the Robert Glasper Experiment to the SFJazz Center on Friday.
Q: Were you always thinking of a second edition of “Black Radio” or was the new album inspired by the first’s success?
A: ”Black Radio” was really a one-off thing, but it got so much love on the streets and love in the mainstream at the same time. It hit the scene and did something, kind of became a movement. It gave a lot of people a lot of hope, especially after we won the Grammy, and opened doors to a lot of things. You can play good honest music and still compete at a certain level, still be recognized. Once that happened, we had to do part two.
Q: Given the project’s premise, trying to distill the best and most enduring aspects of black music, how did you interpret the album’s reception?
A: Usually you think when you make really good music it’s going to be underground. People are more prone to check out a Chris Brown. But those people are out there, and if you make something with quality, there’s a chance to do something. We worked really hard on it and I feel we had so many people behind us, so many people championing us.
That’s what put this record where it was, not feeling like it’s competition, hating on it. We got a lot of love.
Q: With Common, Marsha Ambrosius, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Faith Evans and others, you’ve got quite a lineup on the new album. Was there anyone who got away?
A: I was hoping to have Mary J. Blige and a few other people. Common was supposed to be on part one, but he was shooting a movie.
Everybody’s schedule is crazy.
Q: You definitely took Norah Jones someplace new. She’s kind of a country girl at heart, and she’s never sounded so urban.
A: Everybody says that, she sounds so edgy. That was my whole purpose.
I either wanted to do a throwback and get the old sound that people miss, or put them in a situation they’ve never been in. So with Norah we did a drum-‘n’-bass vibe. I’m trying to get her to let me produce her.
If you go
The Robert Glasper Experiment: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday. $20-$60. SFJazz Center, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., S.F. (866) 920-5299. www.sfjazz.org.
Andrew Gilbert is a freelance writer. E-mail: email@example.com