For almost a decade, Robert Glasper has been the standard-bearer for jazz music’s fusion with hip-hop, soul, and rock, turning songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Radiohead’s “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box” into kinetic electro-funk mashups. With his Experiment band, Glasper, vocalist/saxophonist Casey Benjamin, drummer Mark Colenburg, and bassist Derrick Hodge tend to leapfrog different genres, making music that’s rooted in jazz and R&B and impossible to peg.
After dominating the jazz charts, winning a couple R&B Grammys, and recording with everyone from Erykah Badu to Norah Jones to Snoop Dogg, what's next for a band like the Robert Glasper Experiment? When the group's leader scores a Miles Davis film, plays keys all over albums from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to Anderson .Paak’s Malibu to Maxwell’s blackSUMMERS’night, and collaborates on forthcoming albums from Herbie Hancock, Common, and Mac Miller, what can you do to level up? "You do you," says Glasper with a chuckle. "People need to hear what the Experiment sounds like, just us—know what our vibe is and can be."
On their latest album, ArtScience, the Experiment sounds like a bit of everything that's vibrant and challenging and great about music, woven into a billowing fabric of jazz, funk, soul, rock, hip-hop, blues, disco, electronic, and pop. It is a little bit of art and a little bit of science. "I feel like I lick my finger and put it in the air, and see which way the wind is blowing," he says. And when he gets a feel for what's going on, he knows: "Hmm, that's what's needed in the world right now."