Jun 3, 2016

Review: Everything's Beautiful by @robertglasper & @milesdavis {Written by: @Natural_Nation}


Miles Davis. A name that stands on it's very own. An icon, a musical visionary, and possibly one of most literal definitions of 'one a kind'. I believe if you look very closely at the fine print in the bible you may actually see the 11th commandment: thou shalt know the name Miles Davis and put some 'respek' on his name. Well, musical pianist, Robert Glasper has put 'respek' on his name in the freshest way possible. Everything's Beautiful pays homage to Mile's but not in the typical delivery of a traditional tribute project. What we very often see is the collaboration of various artists delivering the same version of songs we have heard from the original artist. What's the difference? Most often just the voice. Glasper, however has put together a project that pays tribute in a more creative way. He has essentially created new material from small samples and themes of Mile's old music and it works, beautifully.

Everything's Beautiful is a musical pair to the movie Miles Ahead. This past April Don Cheadle directed and starred in a biopic about the life of Miles Davis. I have yet to see the movie but so far I continue to hear a mix of reviews, particularly about the way the story was portrayed. It seems as though Don Cheadle took a more unconventional approach to the making of the movie. Critics and fans seem to either take a liking to his viewpoint or find it a bit much. Either way it seems that the addition of Glasper to score the movie as well as develop his own project was creatively a great idea.

Although I haven't seen the entire movie I have had a chance to listen to some of the scores and it is very apparent that Glasper took a different approach with the LP. It's safe to say that Everything's Beautiful is still a jazzy affair. A 2 AM walk down the foggy streets of New York with a strange filter of indigo. It's smooth and consistently mellow, something I could listen to to wind down for the day. Glasper takes a giant step back on this project. He only performs solo's on two of the tracks: Maiysha and Milestones. It seems he takes a metaphorical birds eye's view to the LP and acts more as a producer and composer. Glasper pulls from various artist's, many of which worked on his Grammy-nominated Black Radio album, to contribute their unique talents to each song.

        List of LP Features:       
Miles Davis
Bilal
Illa J
Erykah Badu
Phonte
Hiatus Kaiyote
Laura Mvula
King
Georgia Ann Muldrow
John Scofield 
Ledisi
Stevie Wonder


Some of the songs feature Miles on the horn and some of the songs find another way to incorporate his artistry. For instance the very first track called Talkin Shit you can hear Miles talking to one his band members by the name of Joe. It seem as though Joe is one of the drummers and Miles is talking to him about trying to find a different beat. It's a really cool way to introduce the project because Miles' voice alone is jazz and it sets the tone for what's to come. Majority of the songs has a very cohesive sound. Throughout the LP, oddly enough, I was constantly being reminded of Janelle Monae's ArchAndroidViolet and Song for Selim in particular reminded me of something I had heard off of her album. The hook being sung on Violet could have easily been replaced with Janelle's vocals and flowed seamlessly, while the composition and metronome rhythm in Song for Selim has a likeness to a song featured on her album called Babopbye Ya. I can only imagine that the parallels I hear are less about Glasper's likeness to Janelle and more about the influence of Miles Davis on the masses.

Maiysha featuring Erykah Badu was one of the few songs that really jumped out at me. It was just completely different from the rest of the project but still managed to fit logically with the rest of the songs. When I made it to this track it did not surprise me that I eventually heard her voice.  If anyone was going to fly in on this Lp with the wind of Bossa nova beneath their wings it would be Ms. Badu. The album closes out with a track called Right on Brotha. The song does not feature any vocals but brings in the multi-talented legend Stevie Wonder to accompany with the harmonica. The last song and the entire project are a great reminder of how many layers and faces these artists have, not being solely defined by one thing. Everything's Beautiful certainly holds true to its name.

Rating 4.3 out of 5



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