Last updated on February 22, 2021
Ah, the Great Closet Clean-out of 2020: pretty much everyone finished that project that had been sitting around half-done, made good on that promise to collaborate, or found a live recording to put out into the world. We got a ton of great music from the Great Closet Clean-out. So far 2021 has continued that trend, as live records have continued to proliferate, despite live music not having been possible for most of 2020. While I yearn for some new music (it’s been a slow year for new music so far in the IC inbox), we can at the very least enjoy R+R=NOW’s R+R=NOW Live, a compelling recording of a show from the super-est of jazz supergroups, recorded in 2018.
The packed house that is R+R=NOW consists of Robert Glasper on keys (or “me on keyboards, thank you so much,” Glasper jokes at the end of “Perspectives / Postpartum”); Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet; Terrace Martin on synthesizer, vocoder, and alto saxophone; Derrick Hodge on bass; Taylor McFerrin on synthesizer; and Justin Tyson on drums. That is a lot of talent. They use it to great effect, as each of the tracks here is excellent in its own way.
“Respond” and “Been on My Mind” are low-key, bass-led groovers that I’m sure Joshua Crumbly is absolutely stoked over. “Been on My Mind” is a pensive slow-burn, while “Respond” is mournful; “Respond” does ratchet up to a big ending, but the solemn groove remains even as it goes big. “Change of Tone” puts a frantic, almost chaotic Glasper keys blitz over another low-key groove. “Perspectives/Postpartum” gets spacy and rock-oriented, becoming a much different type of jazz. “Needed You Still” splits the difference between low-key and maximal, offering speedy drums and synth adventure while also keeping gentle pads and subtle bass in the mix for grounding.
The 25-minute rendition of “Resting Warrior” could have its own review, but suffice to say that it is an excellent cut that spans the gamut of their previously established emotional palette and more. If you’re up for adventurous jazz by assured hands that spans a wide range of emotions, R+R=NOW’s live album is a great way to spend 70ish minutes. –Stephen Carradini