Robert Glasper Lends His Musical Charms to the NAN Triumph Awards [INTERVIEW] by Christopher A. Daniel @robertglasper @NationalAction @Journalistorian

soulhead_RobertGlasper_MainImagePhoto Credit: Janette Beckman

When pianist and composer Robert Glasper was recently touring Europe, he was contacted about serving as musical director for this year’s National Action Network Triumph Awards, which celebrates successful individuals of color who give back to their respective communities. This year’s event, which took place earlier this month in Atlanta and airs on TV One this Saturday, October 3rd at 8PM/ET and 7PM/CT, marks the first time in the Triumph Awards’ six-year history that it will broadcast exclusively on TV One.

The easygoing bandleader responsible for the genre-fusing, Grammy-winning Black Radio LP and its follow up, Black Radio 2, graciously accepted. The Blue Note Records recording artist was joined by one of his musical outfits, The Robert Glasper Experiment (RGE), as the evening’s house band.

soulhead_RobertGlasperExperiment_Image1Photo Credit: Janette Beckman

Accepting the invitation to the Triumph Awards was coincidentally a career milestone for The Robert Glasper Experiment, comprised of bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg and saxophonist Casey Benjamin. “This is a great honor for us to [be part of the Triumph Awards],” says Glasper in a brief interview on the Triumph Awards’ red carpet. “We’ve never actually been the house band for a television show before. It’s been really fun.”

Glasper prepared for the Triumph Awards with Hodge by his side. The Robert Glasper Experiment played behind performers Tasha Cobbs, Estelle, Ledisi, Chanté Moore, Jazmine Sullivan, T.I., Tyrese and Mint Condition’s Stokley Williams. Considering the Houston native has an extraordinary track record for collaborating with a myriad of remarkable talents spanning all musical genres, Glasper has a basic methodology for providing accompaniment to artists.

The accomplished musician synonymous with combining jazz, hip-hop, R&B and soul explained in a few steps his preparation routine for the Triumph Awards with his bandmates at close proximity. As Glasper pats his chest with his right hand, he delivers a slight pitch crescendo for his already suave yet deep voice.

“We got it together by calling up the artists,” recalls Glasper, “giving talks about the songs. It went pretty fast and easy. All of the artists are great.”

Earlier this year, Glasper’s other musical collective, The Robert Glasper Trio, released Covered, an LP of stripped-down, jazz-influenced instrumental renditions of songs by diverse acts like Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Joni Mitchell, Jhené Aiko and Musiq Soulchild. Recently, the keyboardist selected as an official Steinway Artist has been concentrating extensively on composing original music for Miles Ahead, the upcoming biopic on iconic musician Miles Davis.

Glasper is proud that Miles Ahead – in development since 2008 – has now acquired distribution from Sony Pictures Classics and is closing this year’s New York Film Festival. The independent film directed by and starring Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor Don Cheadle proved to be yet another first for Glasper, scoring music for a feature film.

Miles Ahead is also Cheadle’s directorial debut. Glasper, who shared that the film will have a nationwide release sometime next year, had an amazing experience working on a project depicting one of the most influential artists in music history.

“[Don] is a great dude and great actor,” says Glasper. “People don’t know that [Don] is actually a musician. It was amazing working with him on this, especially with the music of Miles Davis. He’s such an icon. It was an amazing thing.”

Watch the National Action Network Triumph Awards on TV One this Saturday, October 3rd at 8PM/ET and 7PM/CT.

BUY Robert Glasper Trio’s Covered via Amazon | iTunes

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