Issue January 7, 2014

Black Radio 2

The Robert Glasper Experiment
BLUE NOTE

When an A student consistently turns in great work, “safe” is graded more harshly. So goes Black Radio 2, the follow-up to pianist Robert Glasper’s Grammy-winning star turn. Beyond a couple forgettable appearances, this sequel efficiently and pleasantly checks off all the boxes for Sunday housework. We get some plain, good R&B, with the effortless vocals of Brandy, Anthony Hamilton and Emeli Sandé, but any of these songs would fit on these artists’ latest; when working with a group of this caliber, it’s a missed opportunity. Only Norah Jones scores big on the album proper, with the live drum and bass of “Let it Ride,” but the “Deluxe Edition” hides the album’s best, pairing Bilal with Jazmine Sullivan and Macy Gray with Jean Grae, band and vocalists making use of the “Experiment” in the group’s name in excellent form.