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Old Apr 9, 2010, 08:10 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Jazz Feature for April 12: Herbie Hancock: "Maiden Voyage".

Tonight the Jazz Show celebrates the 70th Birthday of one of our most significant Jazz artists with one of his most significant and best loved recordings. That person is pianist/composer/Jazz icon and one of the most important artists in any field in the 20th and 21st centuries. He is Herbert Jeffrey Hancock and the Feature album is "Maiden Voyage" done for Blue Note Records in March of 1965. The whole recording of five Hancock compositions was completed in just 10 takes most of which were just false starts. The level of musicianship with this hand-picked quintet is on the highest level and so is the band's inspiration. Trumpeter extraordinaire, Freddie Hubbard is on the front line with tenor saxophonist George Coleman and the blend is as if they were one. Coleman, who was working with Miles Davis at this time shows a different side of his creativity dealing with Hancock's tunes. Ron Carter and the young Tony Williams (who was still billed as "Anthony Williams" in those days) on drums were Miles Davis' rhythm section but they approach this material in a very different but no less satisfying and innovative way on this record. As for Herbie Hancock himself, the man literally changed the way we listened to Jazz piano and exerted his stongest influence on other pianists during this productive period. All of his recordings under his name for Blue Note were highly anticipated by musicians and the lay public from "Takin' Off" to "My Point of View" to the revealing "Inventions & Dimensions" through to the powerful quartet disc with Hubbard called "Empyrean Isles" to the Feature recording and beyond ("Speak Like a Child" and "The Prisoner"). These records will stand and remain and important part of Jazz history and "Maiden Voyage" will be the centerpiece. Two of the Hancock compositions have become classics ("Maiden Voyage" and "Dolphin Dance") and the others, while less frequently heard have been tackled by some of our major players. "Little One" was recorded by the Miles Davis Quintet on their recording for Columbia called "ESP". "The Eye of the Hurricane" is a 12 bar minor key blues and "Survival of the Fittest" is a more open ended blowing tune with some strong rhythmic variations very much like some of the tunes that were being brought into Miles' band. This album is, as stated, one of Hancock's finest and will stand the test of time. Perhaps many of you in the listening audience know of this album but have not heard it in a long time........now is your chance to re-visit this iconic recording.

Hancock, as most of us are aware went on to a great career after Miles Davis and his Blue Note period. Herbie formed many bands, including the adventurous electric "Mwandishi" band and the funky "Headhunters" and branched out stylistically in just about every direction. Those directions were evident in his exciting and superb performance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival a couple of years ago. It seems just when the Jazz critics are about to write Hancock off the Jazz map as they have done many times, he comes back with a solo or a group effort that puts him right back in the thick of things. In this regard he is much like Chick Corea and George Benson.

Herbie Hancock's bio is easily available from many sources (books, the internet, album notes etc) but April 12,1940 in Chicago is where Herbie was born 70 years ago. He was a child prodigy and was playing the classical music of Mozart and others when he was a young boy and at age 11 he played with the Chicago Symphony. He never had Jazz lessons but began to listen to the music of Oscar Peterson and George Shearing and transcribing their phrases from recordings. He entered college (Grinell) as a physics major but dropped that after two years and majored in music. He began playing more and more Jazz and when trumpeter Donald Byrd heard Herbie in Chicago at a session, Byrd asked Herbie to join his band and soon he was in New York. The rest is history. Hancock is a remarkable man, youthful, positive and energetic and at a healthy 70, there is much more to come. Happy Birthday Herbie!

The Feature will air a little after 11pm and I'll also have some treats as well as some music from Polish trumpeter/composer Tomasz Stanko from his new ECM album "Dark Eyes". We'll be featuring this extraordinary recording in it's entirety on a Monday next month (May). Watch this space for more info when the time draws near. Stanko is coming to this year's Jazz Festival....see the home page listings for this info. Hope you can make it by this Monday at 9pm for the whole show..........see you then...........
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Old Apr 11, 2010, 01:07 PM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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There may be a few of us who remember when the original Cellar (222 East Broadway in the rear) was re-opened for a brief time by Ron and Shirley Small in the early 70's as "Ye Olde Cellar". The Smalls booked a number of name artists, Ornette Coleman (with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell), Tim Buckley, and Herbie Hancock with Eddie Henderson, Julian Priester, Bennie Maupin, Buster Williams, Billy Hart.....aka the "Mwandishi Band". This was a new step for Hancock coming out of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" period. Those who were there at the Cellar to hear this band were literally blown away. The Mwandishi Band (Named because all the members took African names...Hancock was "Mwandishi", Priester was "Pepo Mtoto" etc. As a further tribute to Herbie Hancock...tonight's show will open with a couple of long pieces by this very important Hancock band. Right at 9pm (after the intro).
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