Robert Glasper Experiment ‘Black Radio 2’ (Blue Note) 4/5

Robert GlasperThe second instalment of Robert Glasper’s musings into neo-soul territory and a marked improvement on the first. His trusted basic band is retained with bassist Derrick Hodge playing a key role in arranging. An array of vocal guests include Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott. Most impressive is the gospel-tinged ‘I stand alone’ which works wonderfully well over a hip-hop beat, the opener and obvious radio airplay contender ‘Baby tonight (Black Radio 2 theme)’ with vocoder vocals à la Herbie Hancock circa 1978 and features a moody bassline and is a slow jam classic. A sensitive keyboard opening greets the listener on ‘Calls’ with Jill Scott called upon in a restrained quiet storm number while ‘Trust’ is another beat-infused ballad with the soulful delivery of Marsha Ambrosius. Anthony Hamilton offers a thrilling interpretation of ‘Yet to find’ with an extended piano accompaniment and solo. If there is one minor reservation, it is that there is a similar tempo throughout, but the songs themselves are far stronger than previous with catchier hooks and overall this is a very successful fusion of soul and jazz grooves.  Tim Stenhouse