Words by: Chad Berndtson
If you attended The Nth Power show on August 12 in Hartford, you walked into an unusual situation for the band: it performed as a drums-bass-guitar trio, with no keyboards.
Nikki Glaspie, one of our scene’s most mesmerizing drummers and an Nth Power co-founder, gave us a ring this past week to let us know what’s up: namely, that the Nth Power will continue to expand to four (and even more) members when it makes sense but that the core touring unit — Glaspie, Nate Edgar and Nick Cassarino — will be the fixed lineup this fall. The Nth Power has dates booked well into November, and, as Glaspie told JamBase exclusively, a New Year’s run starting to take shape.
JAMBASE: So The Nth Power is now a trio?
NIKKI GLASPIE: We’re just going out right now as a trio. [Keyboardist Courtney Je’mell Smith], you know, he writes songs and is a musical director at a church, and he just went to this huge convention and won all these awards. It was super awesome, because that happened in front of all these people we look up to and are influenced by as gospel artists, people like Donnie McClurkin, right there in the audience.
So while Courtney was doing that, we had a run in the Northeast, and we got a sub for Courtney, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t work out. So the last night of the run — in Hartford, Connecticut — we played as a trio, and the energy and vibe of us playing these songs as a trio was so good, we were like, wait a second, let’s use this. Courtney’s got a bunch of stuff to do, so yeah, we were like, let’s just do this as the core. You gotta break it down to the core sometimes.
JAMBASE: And that trio show was really special?
NG: Yeah, when the gig happened — the audience reaction was really what sparked the idea. We enjoyed it, just playing the songs we believe in. We’re out here trying to spread love, man. Especially now.
JAMBASE: So this fall, The Nth Power tour will be the trio lineup?
NG: For this tour, but Courtney is still around, we’re still doing stuff together. He is going to be with us at Hulaween, we’re going to Australia, we have these Marley tributes. People will see him at a few shows, for sure. But it’s accurate to say that right now, this second, today, we’re a trio.
JAMBASE: The output of Nth Power material has picked up quite a bit in the past two years. Will that continue?
NG: We’re writing right now. We’ve been writing and recording, actually, and have a couple of songs in the can already. But we’re going to finish this tour and then the plan is to go back into the studio and get something out as soon as possible. We are very excited about the future. We have been in the studio with Kofi Burbridge and Cheryl Pepsii Riley getting some new music together.
Nikki fronts Galactic aboard Jam Cruise 15
JAMBASE: What else are you working on?
NG: I just played Red Rocks with GRiZ last Friday. I’ve also been touring around with a band called Tephra Sound. It’s Helen Gillet on cello, Jessica Lurie on alto and tenor sax, flute and clarinet and Brian Haas on keys.
JAMBASE: That’s a pretty wild lineup. If I recall, the first iteration of it formed at Jazz Fest in 2016?
NG: Yeah! Tephra Sound just released a record last month called Horizon. Please tell people to get a copy, it’s wild. I’m also going to Europe with Maceo Parker once our [Nth Power] tour is over in November. I’m also playing with GRiZ again in December. The Nth Power will be doing a show with him December 30 in Asheville.
JAMBASE: How do you pick what projects to commit to?
NG: I’m committed to music. Honestly, it just finds me. I am extremely fortunate to be able to play with such amazing musicians. I am always looking to learn and expand my reach. I am committed to The Nth Power wholly, but when we are off, I like to play with my heroes and the people I love. It’s a true blessing from God.
I also want to make a call to action for all musicians, artists, music lovers, everyone in general. We must band together. We have to figure this out for our kids. We have to take care of each other. All this hate is old. It’s old and stale. It’s getting in the way of progress.
Show more love. It’s all about the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. That’s it. You don’t want to be disrespected, don’t disrespect someone else. It’s not rocket science. Love.