The NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert series always seems to draw something special out of artists. The setting forces musicians to make a statement with a reduced set and limited instrumentation. Essentially, it shows viewers what a group is really made of, and the Robert Glasper Experiment used to the opportunity to prove they’re the real thing.
The core of the band consists of Glasper on keyboard, Mark Colenburg on drums, and Derrick Hodge on bass, who in our humble opinion steals the show. The set starts with “Trust,” featuring vocalist Marsha Ambrosius. Hodge fills out the beautiful jazz-infused R&B song with a slightly synth-y octaver to give the song a silky soundscape. The tune ends with a bass/vocal duet as the bassist lays out the chords and bass line.
Hodge switches basses for the second tune, which the group makes up on the spot. He drives his bandmates with an ostinato bass line accented with perfectly placed runs. If you don’t have time for all three songs, be sure to jump to 16:40 to catch the highlight song, “F.T.B. (Gonna Be Alright)” from Glasper’s album, Black Radio. Hodge rouses the audience with a perfectly funky bass line that kicks the song off.