In a recent interview, Robert Glasper—a rising star on jazz piano—said, "I'm one of those cats who love both jazz and hiphop. And I play them authentically. I don't play at either one of them. I am both."

From friskily atonal, Cecil Taylor–like runs that pepper "Silly Rabbit" to the hiphop-influenced interludes in "J Dillalude," "F.T.B.," and other tracks, the 27-year-old pianist's latest disc, In My Element (Blue Note), elegantly affirms his love of jazz and hiphop.

I spoke with the Brooklyn-based Glasper by phone last week and asked how hiphop can enrich jazz. "You can rap on top of something, but that's superficial," observes Glasper. "Hiphop brings the head-nodding thing: not a finger-snapping tempo, but a midtempo groove with a lot going on inside."

In My Element abounds with interludes, alluring pocket-sized pieces akin to the sophisticated slivers of sound that permeate today's hiphop records and hark back to Earth Wind & Fire's LP Gratitude (1975). Glasper's version of the Sam Rivers classic "Beatrice" ends with a 70-second postlude, a rat-a-tat stick on a snare-drum rim lick that blossoms into a turntable-friendly vamp for piano and drums. "Some of those pieces recall the tune before or develop what comes next," explains Glasper. Voice-mail messages appear too, poignantly on "J Dilla-lude," a tribute to the pianist's compadre, hiphop producer J Dilla.

At Jazz Alley, Glasper appears with Terence Blanchard's rhythm team, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott. Reflecting on this brief detour away from his usual (and astonishingly brilliant) bandmates Damion Reed and Vicente Archer, Glasper looks forward to reconnecting with Hodge and Scott: "We played together with Terence [Blanchard] and in many other situations, so it should be a great night." Indeed.

Catch the Robert Glasper Trio on Thurs June 21 at Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $21.50.



The Symphony proffers a coda to their recent "Bridging the 48th Parallel" festival: Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 8. I'm glad it's not the Czech composer's celebrated (and to my ears overrated) Symphony No. 9 (subtitled "From the New World"), which overshadows his previous symphonic output, especially the sunny No. 8. Poulenc's Concerto for Organ and the Klezmer Rondos of Paul Schoenfield round out the program. Also Sat June 23 at 8 pm and Sun June 24 at 2 pm. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 215-4747, 7:30 pm, $15—$89.

The 13th edition of this festival includes a slew of acts, most of them from Portland, where cheaper rents make it easier for artists to live frugally. If you can only attend one night, catch the Sunday performance with two acts from San Francisco, Midmight and the squirmy synths of Hans Grüsel's Kränkenkabinet. Sunday also features festival mainstay Eric Ostrowski of Noggin, Vancouver, BC—based solo bassist Wendy Atkinson, and a large ensemble built around the incendiary out-jazz outfit Walrus Machine. Through Sun June 24; see for full details. Olympia Eagles Hall, 805 Fourth Ave E, Olympia, 360-481-4558, 7 pm, $7 or $25 for a full festival pass.


Saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins kicks off a 10-day festival laden with heavies and leavened with promising newcomers drawn from all genres of improvised music. Performers include John Butcher, heartthrob trumpeter Chris Botti, Don Byron, and those masters of New Dutch Swing, the ICP Orchestra. Through Sun July 1. Various venues, 888-438-5200, check for details, $13—$88.


An intersection of freely improvised music and poetry, However features the lustrous cello work of Lori Goldston (Black Cat Orchestra) and trumpeter Angelina Baldoz. Along with drummer Jaison Scott, Goldston and Baldoz create wistful, sometimes agitated textures to accompany poet Torben Ulrich, whose humble recitation recalls Harry Partch's settings of Li Po. Fourth Floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding scale donation.

Support The Stranger


This all-Mozart program showcases two trios for piano, violin, and cello (K. 496 in G major and K. 502 in B flat major). Downstairs at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255, 3 pm, $12—$15.


A product of the jazz program at Roosevelt High School, Gazarek celebrates the release of her new disc, Return to You (Native Language). The Seattle native has grown as a vocalist, notably adding a dash of world-weary grit to her falsetto. By ranging through jazz, folk, and pop, Return reminds me that the term "jazz singer" is no longer a matter of song selection or instrumental lineups, but delivering the phrasing, the tugging vibrato, and other microscopic improvisations that most pop recordings tend to iron out or obliterate altogether by immuring the voice in a wall of sound. Also Wed June 27. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $21.50.