A Change of Tone with Robert Glasper’s New Jazz Band, R+R=NOW

With the festival season approaching, lineups once again serve as a good source for us to discover new artists. That’s how we discovered R+R=NOW. A brand new jazz group founded by pianist/producer Robert Glasper, one of today’s most influential pianists when it comes to jazz, hip hop and (neo-)soul. They’re set to take the stage this summer at North Sea Jazz, Dour, Montreux Jazz Festival, amongst 25 more festivals.

In typical jazz-fashion, Robert Glasper assembled the group with session musicians—some of the very best, while mostly working behind-the-scenes. Even if their names don’t ring a bell, chance is you’ve heard their contributions to music by eg. Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, or Kendrick Lamar.

Take note, the names to remember: founder Robert Glasper on keys, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Terrace Martin on synthesizer and vocoder,  Derrick Hodge (who was also part of Robert Glasper Experiment) on bass, Taylor McFerrin on synth and beatbox, and Justin Tyson on drums.

R+R stands for ‘Reflect’ and ‘Respond’, inspired by words by late great soul singer, pianist and activist Nina Simone: “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist”, as also featured in the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, for which Robert Glasper made the accompanying album Nina Revisited. That’s what the group’s name, R+R=NOW, means: if you reflect on what’s going on in this day and age and respond to it, that’s what makes you relevant now.

This weekend they released their debut single, “Change of Tone”. The track feels somewhat as a showcase of the diversity they’re capable of: the instrumentation remains the same throughout the whole 7 minutes, while the music shifts from fusion to free jazz to R&B.

Get the FLAC-file here for your next listening session. We listened to it on Kii Three’s, and it proved to be a very suitable track to try out a high-quality setup: the stuttering kick and snare drum, the soft hits on the hi-hat, the depth of the synth, the vocoder-echo of the vocals, the deep bass—all subtle elements you want to hear in the best possible way. As seasoned session musicians and studio-audiophiles like themselves can probably only agree to…

R+R=NOW’s debut album Collagically Speaking will be out June 15th via Blue Note Records

Words by Danny of thefindmag.com