Bad form isn’t only a fit discussion for an Edith Wharton novel, it is currently the discussion in the jazz world. Let’s back up. Robert Glasper, till recently a jazz pianist of genuine talent, has made a go for pop stardom. Along the pathway toward that cinnamon-scented paradise of egotism, he’s thrown a bit of shade jazz’s way: “I’ve gotten bored with jazz to the point where I wouldn’t mind something bad happening.”
Critics say Glasper’s recent album neglects any acknowledgement that he’s a jazz musician. But this shouldn’t be surprising: the house Glasper belongs to, Blue Note, has left its jazz legacy behind and markets R&B talent instead. But should aspiring pop stars be giving the music advice? And is Glasper’s embrace of pop, to put it mildly, infidel? By all lights, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis were major, shape-shifting jazz talents that went pop without much compromise to their jazz personas. What makes Glasper different is his condescending, above-it-all, smashing-the-china histrionics, fad-embracing, spoiled brat attitude toward authentic jazz culture: “I get sick of touring run-of-the-mill jazz clubs that look like a museum for dead jazz musicians…That’s not fun or hip, and I don’t like having to introduce my hip young audience to that.” So farewell, Glasper! And watch out for that hard-swinging door!