R+R=NOW to Release Debut Album in June

All-star sextet led by Robert Glasper blends multiple genres on "Collagically Speaking"

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Robert Glasper (photo by Mathieu Bitton)

On June 15, Blue Note Records will release Collagically Speaking, the first album by Robert Glasper’s new supergroup, R+R=NOW. Assembled last year by the keyboardist/producer for an all-star concert during the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the group also includes Terrace Martin on synthesizer and vocoder, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Taylor McFerrin (son of Bobby McFerrin) on synthesizer and beatbox, Derrick Hodge on bass and Justin Tyson on drums.

In addition to the instrumentalists, Collagically Speaking features several guest vocalists. On “Change of Tone,” the first track to be released from the album for streaming and downloading, R&B singer-songwriter Goapele takes the mic. Elsewhere, vocals are provided by a mix of actors, MCs and singers, including Yasiin Bey, a.k.a. Mos Def.

The music produced by this collective, which was recorded over four days at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood with no prior rehearsal, mixes jazz, funk, hip-hop and electronica. As for the group’s name, Glasper said in a statement that he came up with it while co-producing Nina Revisited, a 2015 tribute album to Nina Simone (released in tandem with the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?), and ruminating on her oft-quoted declaration that an artist’s duty is to reflect his or her own times. “R+R stands for ‘Reflect’ and ‘Respond,’” he explained. “When you reflect what’s going on in your time and respond to that, you can’t not be relevant. So ‘R’ plus ‘R’ equals ‘NOW.’”

In celebration of Collagically Speaking’s release, R+R=NOW will play concerts in Atlanta (June 15), Washington, D.C. (June 16) and Brooklyn (June 22) before launching an extensive European summer tour. The band returns to the U.S. for an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival (Aug. 3), followed by shows in Japan in the late summer. Scroll down for the current tour itinerary; further dates will be announced soon.

May 13: St. Lucia Jazz Festival – Gros Islet, St. Lucia
June 15: Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
June 16: DC JazzFest – Washington, DC
June 22: Celebrate Brooklyn – Brooklyn, NY
June 28: Leopolis Jazz Festival – Lviv, Ukraine
June 30: JazzTM – Timişoara, Romania
July 1: La Défense – Paris, France
July 4: Vienne Jazz Festival – Vienne, France
July 5: Warsaw Summer Jazz Days – Warsaw, Poland
July 6: Istanbul Jazz Festival – Istanbul, Turkey
July 7: Locus Festival – Locorotondo, Italy
July 8: Montreux Jazz Festival – Montreux, Switzerland
July 11: Vicar Street – Dublin, Ireland
July 13: North Sea Jazz Festival – Rotterdam, Netherlands
July 14: Dour Festival – Dour, Belgium
July 15: Citadel Festival – London, UK
July 16: Shepherd’s Bush Empire – London, UK
July 17: Nice Jazz Festival – Nice, France
July 18: Molde Jazz Festival – Molde, Norway
July 20: Pori Jazz Festival – Pori, Finland
July 22: Black Sea Jazz Festival – Batumi, Georgia
July 24: Jazz Festival at Teatre BARTS – Barcelona, Spain
July 26: Heineken Jazzaldia – San Sebastian, Spain
Aug. 3: Newport Jazz Festival – Newport, RI
Aug. 28-29: Billboard Live – Tokyo, Japan
Aug. 30: Billboard Live – Osaka, Japan
Sept. 1: Tokyo Jazz Festival – Tokyo, Japan
Jan. 26-Feb. 2, 2019: Blue Note at Sea

Read an in-depth JazzTimes interview with Robert Glasper from 2017.