1. The Robert Glasper Experiment at the Neptune, December 14, 8 p.m. Neptune Theatre

Breakthrough success can often be a tough act to follow. But with a little help from some notable friends, Robert Glasper Experiment is set to up the ante with the follow-up to his successful GRAMMY-winning album Black Radio. Flaunting a diverse array of featured guests including Common, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brandy, Jill Scott, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, Luke James, Emeli Sandé, Lalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Black Radio 2 is certain to surprise and delight critics and fans alike. With a unique fusion of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop that brazenly traverses the boundaries of all three genres, Black Radio 2 finds Glasper and his musical cohorts creating in a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.

“This record was a little different,” explains the Houston, Texas native. “I didn’t want to make the same record twice. I wanted to make a conscious effort to keep the vibe and the spirit of the first one without it sounding the same.” Considering his own rich musical journey, this sonic shifting approach to Black Radio 2 seems to be a long time coming. Reared in a household where Motown, R&B, and gospel were constant companions, his mother sang and played piano in church while indulging in her love for jazz and blues by performing at local clubs. By the age of twelve, he’d begun to fully follow his mother’s lead by playing piano in church and accompanying her on club dates on the Houston circuit.

Glasper went on to sharpen his prodigal chops at the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and New School University, allowing his developing affinity for pop, hip-hop, and rock to inform his musical sensibilities. By 2003, Glasper had already racked up spots in the bands of prominent jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, and Roy Hargrove. In addition, his deep appreciation of hip-hop and R&B allowed him to form lateral bonds in those respective worlds. Guided by his mother’s example, Glasper simultaneously performed jazz while taking gigs as a touring musician and musical director for artists such as Maxwell, yasiin bey, Q-Tip, and Bilal.

With an impressive wealth of experience and talent, it was only a matter of time before he’d become an artist in his own right. That same year, he released his debut album Mood on Fresh Sound Records. Blue Note signed Glasper soon after and released his label debut Canvas (2005), followed by In My Element (2007) and Double-Booked (2009) – his first GRAMMY-nominated effort which juxtaposed his acoustic Trio with the electric Experiment band. While those albums were primarily rooted in jazz, he made certain to sprinkle his other musical influences into the stew. But in 2012, he decided it was time to serve the full main course. Glasper’s Black Radio was released that year to a maelstrom of critical acclaim. Featuring the likes of Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Meshell Ndegeocello, and yasiin bey, the album was cultivated via a series of jam sessions with artists from varying genres whom Glasper formed alliances with during his time in the music industry. “Everybody just came to the studio and we did stuff on the spot,” he says. “That was the vibe. I wasn’t thinking R&B.”

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