Robert Glasper has spent much of his time recently immersed in the world of Miles Davis, scoring Don Cheadle's biopic "Miles Ahead" and reimagining the late trumpet great's work on the new "Everything's Beautiful" album.
But he leaves that material alone when he takes his Experiment Band on the road for live dates.
"I don't do any of the Miles stuff with any of my bands," Glasper, 38 -- a Houston native and Grammy Award winner who's won raves for his fusing of jazz, hip-hop and soul -- explains by phone from Brooklyn, where he now resides. "'Everything's Beautiful' was done with samples and things like that. I didn't have a real drummer or anything. It wasn't connected to any of my bands,necessarily.
"But who knows; I might throw an interlude from it into the shows or something. But it wouldn't feel right to focus on it or anything."
Nevertheless, Glasper remains stoked "to just be in the space of the most influential jazz musician" on those projects. He was approached directly by Cheadle for the film score, Glasper's first ever, while for the guest-laden "Something's Beautiful" album he received access to Davis' vaults, from which he sampled and constructed new songs -- and felt a direct connection with Davis.
"At one point, for fun, I looked to my left or right and was like, 'You like that Miles?' and in my mind he said, 'Yeah,'" Glasper recalls with a laugh. "My boy started laughing; 'Did you just talk to Miles?!'"
The track "They Can't Hold Me Down," meanwhile, fuses samples from Davis and the late Detroit hip-hop producer J Dilla, with the latter's brother Illa J, now part of the group Slum Village, providing vocals.
"J Dilla has been a big influence on my music," Glasper says. "I got a chance to hang out and make music with him back in '99. When I came up with this track 'They Can't Hold Me Down' I felt like it was in the spirit of J Dilla. He and Miles had that same vibe where they were always going from one style to another and always changing and looking forward and had their own sounds.
"So that vibe brought the whole thing together and I thought, 'I'll put Illa J on it. I think that would be dope.' And he turned it around in, like, one day. he was ready."
With the Davis endeavors behind him, Glasper is now co-producing rapper Common's next album. And he plans to play some live shows based on "Everything's Beautiful," putting together a band to play the material and getting some of the album's guests to take part.
"This whole thing has been such and honor," he says. "I'm still kind of like, 'Huh?! What happened.' It's been great."
Robert Glasper and Damien Escobar
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 1.
Chene Park Amphitheatre, 2600 Atwater at Chene, Detroit.
Tickets are $36 and $20 pavilion, $15 lawn.
Call 313-393-7128 or visit cheneparkdetroit.com.
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