The name of this amalgam of great musicians came to Robert Glasper while he was working on a Nina Simone project. When asked why she had to get all political when just staying quiet would be better for her career, Simone said a musician’s job in to respond to the world around them. Glasper turned that into the equation, Respond + React = Now.
R+R=Now is made up of Glaser on keyboards, Terrance Martin on synthesizer and vocoder, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Derrick Hodges on bass, Tay McFerrin on synths and beatbox and Justin Tyson on drums.
Recorded during a month long residence at the legendary Blue Note in New York in 2018, the collective projects an introspective groove that feels like a perfect tonic for the ultra stress of 2020/21. Glasper and company take us on a journey to a liminal landscape, remote from the daily news and drama. The songs float in a gauzy electronic haze. Martin’s vocoder distorted voice rises from the swirling brass and bass melodies like a distant memory in an android’s dream. “Been on My Mind” feels like lovers rock from the forward lounge on the Mothership. Band members composed most of the tunes, with some being reworking of songs from 2018’s Collegiacally Speaking. We also get their space jam rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost.”
What I really like about Live is the way the sounds are mixed. The group always sounds relaxed and always on the spot. Christian Scott’s trumpet soars through the atmosphere like a dream of Miles Davis in the 4th dimension. The instruments surprise with keys appearing in the far left or right of the mix. Their sound surrounds and engulfs and takes us away from this existence, for just a little while.