The “Black Radio” series, which Glasper described as a distillation of his brand, made breathing room for those influences. The first album, released in 2012, featured several of his neo-soul compatriots — Badu, Bilal, Musiq Soulchild — as well as rapping from Lupe Fiasco and Bey, with covers of songs by David Bowie and Nirvana thrown in for good measure.
“Black Radio” earned Glasper his first Grammy Award (for best R&B album) and set him on a collision course with popular culture not seen from a jazz musician this century. He played piano on several tracks of Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” released a remix album with the house music producer Kaytranada and was recruited by the actor Don Cheadle to compose the score for “Miles Ahead,” a 2015 biopic of Miles Davis.
“He has that desire to get to the next level,” said Common, who appeared on “Black Radio 2” (2013) and formed the group August Greene with Glasper and the drummer/producer Karriem Riggins. “He wants to be the one that people will look to and say, ‘Yeah, he was the greatest of that time.’”
Last month, Glasper arrived at a recording studio in Downtown Brooklyn to work on his latest film score, for a documentary about Luther Vandross, one of his mother’s favorite artists. “The first time I fell in love with acoustic piano wasn’t Duke Ellington, or Monk, or Herbie — it was Luther,” he said, crediting Nat Adderley Jr., Vandross’s longtime pianist and arranger. His large frame was draped in a black T-shirt with a portrait of Dilla, whose idiosyncratic production style inspired a generation of hip-hop and jazz musicians before and after his death in 2006.
“Watching him work changed the way I play,” Glasper said.
A couple of days after the session, Glasper would fly to Johannesburg for nearly two weeks to play festival dates. He is also working on a Christmas EP and composing another film score, for a documentary about Billy Preston. On Wednesday, back in New York, he began his annual, monthlong residency at the Blue Note Jazz club, colloquially known as “Robtoberfest.” The residency (and a related festival in Napa Valley) unites his extended universe of friends and forebears in one setting. It has become known for drawing A-list surprise performers (Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are fans) and, this year, will mix tributes to giants like Herbie Hancock and Art Blakey with featured performances from Bey, Norah Jones, Yebba, D Smoke, Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington, among others.