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Herbie Hancock Quintet at SF Jazz
I've just come from the matinee performance of the Herbie Hancock Quintet at SF Jazz. With Marcus Miller, Vinnie Colaiuta, Lionel Loueke, and Zakir Hussein! Herbie and Marcus of course are alumni of Miles. Herbie started the Headhunters just after playing with Miles, and Marcus was the producer/arranger for Miles during the last great part of Miles' career. And this band could rightly be called the Headhunters. Marcus and Vinnie lay down incredible grooves, with Zakir adding further propulsion. Herbie and Zakir played on some of the Bill Laswell Material recordings. I've always said a good imrovisor can play the same tunes, or set, and have them sound fresh every night. Watermelon Man (with a few bars of 17, courtesey of Lionel) received a deep funk treatment, as did Canteloupe Island, Rockit, and, for the encore, Chameleon. A Lionel solo spot, with harmonics, Benin Fulfulde vocal clicks, and thumb slaps ala Marcus, was extraordinary. Followed by a duet with Zakir (in which Zakir also vocalized) that was truly a world fusion. Like Ellington, Herbie has always been able to go from penthouse to rent party in a single phrase. His mastery of time, phrasing, harmony, and meldic invention are staggering. He's always looked about 20 years younger than his actual age, and keyboard strapped around his neck, ended the show with a jump any guitar god would envy. From acoustic to electric, Herbie is a treasure.