Thanks to the efforts of artists such as Bad Plus and Yaron Herman, jazz versions of Nirvana tunes seem to be very hip right now. But when the Robert Glasper Trio busted out Smells Like Teen Spirit during their set at the 2010 London Jazz Festival, there was no sense of any bandwagon jumping. In a highly improvised set, the Houston-born pianist brought the house down with his progressive yet accessible brand of genre-crossing jazz. While having many similarities with Thelonious Monk, Glasper’s style is more inclusive, and this was never more obvious than in his aforementioned cover of the Nirvana classic.

Elements of soul, gospel and hip-hop all make an appearance in what has to be one of the most unifying sounds that modern jazz has to offer. The biggest testament to this has to be when the night’s headline act, non other than the seminal horn player Terence Blanchard, described Glasper as “a visionary.” This comes from a man with over 30 years touring experience and a history with such names as Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock and pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the contemporary jazz scene.

Joined for the last two tracks by boundary-pushing drummer and long time collaborator Chris Dave, Robert Glasper gave everyone at the seminal but sometimes restrictive ECM record label something to think about. In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Glasper himself mentions the “jazz police” who fret and fuss over what they deem to be the degradation of their holy and infallible genre. He goes on to say that, “jazz is about what ever is happening in the world at that moment… you have to let it evolve and grow.” With tasteful harmony and fearless dedication to experimentation, The Robert Glasper Trio do just that. If you haven’t already heard them, check out this video:

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