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Herbie Hancock

Marcus Miller brought his band to Yoshi's last night in support of his Blue Note Records debut, Afrodeezia. The recording was inspired by his role as a Unesco Artist for Peace and spokesman for The Slave Route Project. His touring band consists of saxophonist Alex Han, trumpeter Lee Hogans, pianist Brett Williams, guitarist Adam Agati, drummer Louis Cato, and Mino Cinelu, a delightful reunion for Marcus, as they both played with Miles. Mino was also one of my favorite (of many) Weather Report perusssionists. He adds both African and Brazillian flavors to Miller's bracing funk. "It was after visiting the House of Slaves on Gorée Island that I composed “Gorée,” explains Miller, referring to the powerful track featured on his previous album Renaissance. “Onstage I felt the need to say what I had been feeling in Senegal. I wanted people to understand that this tune spoke not only of the slave tragedy but, through the music especially, that these people who suddenly found themselves at the bottom of a ship's hold had discovered a way to survive, and were able in time to transform their distress into joy. Shortly after my trip to Gorée, UNESCO named me an Artist for Peace, and made me the spokesperson for the Slave Route Project. That was when I started thinking about Afrodeezia." The band played brilliantly under Marcus' direction; he played Goree on bass clarinet as the last tune of the regular set. Marcus is an artist I see whenever I can; a few months ago with Herbie Hancock and Zakir Hussain (!!!) and Vinnie Colaiuta at SF Jazz, and on my birthday a couple of years ago with Robben Ford and Joey DeFrancesco in a Miles tribute.
Marcus Miller brought his band to Yoshi's last night in support of his Blue Note Records debut, Afrodeezia. The recording was inspired by his role as a Unesco Artist for Peace and spokesman for The Slave Route Project. His touring band consists of saxophonist Alex Han, trumpeter Lee Hogans, pianist Brett Williams, guitarist Adam Agati, drummer Louis Cato, and Mino Cinelu, a delightful reunion for Marcus, as they both played with Miles. Mino was also one of my favorite (of many) Weather Report perusssionists. He adds both African and Brazillian flavors to Miller's bracing funk. "It was after visiting the House of Slaves on Gorée Island that I composed “Gorée,” explains Miller, referring to the powerful track featured on his previous album Renaissance. “Onstage I felt the need to say what I had been feeling in Senegal. I wanted people to understand that this tune spoke not only of the slave tragedy but, through the music especially, that these people who suddenly found themselves at the bottom of a ship's hold had discovered a way to survive, and were able in time to transform their distress into joy. Shortly after my trip to Gorée, UNESCO named me an Artist for Peace, and made me the spokesperson for the Slave Route Project. That was when I started thinking about Afrodeezia." The band played brilliantly under Marcus' direction; he played Goree on bass clarinet as the last tune of the regular set. Marcus is an artist I see whenever I can; a few months ago with Herbie Hancock and Zakir Hussain (!!!) and Vinnie Colaiuta at SF Jazz, and on my birthday a couple of years ago with Robben Ford and Joey DeFrancesco in a Miles tribute.
Marcus Miller brought his band to Yoshi's last night in support of his Blue Note Records debut, Afrodeezia. The recording was inspired by his role as a Unesco Artist for Peace and spokesman for The Slave Route Project. His touring band consists of saxophonist Alex Han, trumpeter Lee Hogans, pianist Brett Williams, guitarist Adam Agati, drummer Louis Cato, and Mino Cinelu, a delightful reunion for Marcus, as they both played with Miles. Mino was also one of my favorite (of many) Weather Report perusssionists. He adds both African and Brazillian flavors to Miller's bracing funk. "It was after visiting the House of Slaves on Gorée Island that I composed “Gorée,” explains Miller, referring to the powerful track featured on his previous album Renaissance. “Onstage I felt the need to say what I had been feeling in Senegal. I wanted people to understand that this tune spoke not only of the slave tragedy but, through the music especially, that these people who suddenly found themselves at the bottom of a ship's hold had discovered a way to survive, and were able in time to transform their distress into joy. Shortly after my trip to Gorée, UNESCO named me an Artist for Peace, and made me the spokesperson for the Slave Route Project. That was when I started thinking about Afrodeezia." The band played brilliantly under Marcus' direction; he played Goree on bass clarinet as the last tune of the regular set. Marcus is an artist I see whenever I can; a few months ago with Herbie Hancock and Zakir Hussain (!!!) and Vinnie Colaiuta at SF Jazz, and on my birthday a couple of years ago with Robben Ford and Joey DeFrancesco in a Miles tribute.
Saturday evening Zakir Hussein and guitarist Lionel Loueke played SF Jazz as part of Zakir's week-long residency. They first performed together last year in a fantastic Herbie Hancock gig that also included Vinnie Colaiuta and Marcus Miller. Zakir, of course, is one of the most accomplished musicians the world has ever known, from North Indian classical, to fusion with Shakti, to an endless stream of world music collaborations. Lionel, from Benin, is best known for his work with Herbie, and Terence Blanchard. Mother Africa wed Mother India in an extraordinary evening of music. Lionel is also a gifted vocalist, incorporating clicking sounds from Benin. One can hear echoes of Jerry Garcia, Pat Martino, and Jimmy Page in his playing. He used samplers and delays to create landscapes, propelled by Zakir's constant creativity. They were joined on some pieces by Rakesh Chaurasia on Bansuri flute, and Ganesh Rajagopalan on violin and vocals, and the music truly soared. I believe it was completely improvised, and their level of intuition was extraordinary. Hopefully there will be a recoding.
Thursday evening Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock performed as a duo at Cal Performances. For many years Cal Performances has booked jazz programming to rival or surpass SF Jazz. To me, and I imagine many others, this was the anticipated jazz concert of the season. It did not dissapoint. Two paralel Steinway concert grands with the lids down, and two synth keyboards were all these grandmasters needed. From the first few notes on acoustic, they sounded exactly as I thought they might. Chromatic, slightly dissonant, at first I thought they were channeling Webern, but from the program notes of other performances, it may well have been excerpts from Bartok's Mikrokosmos. Chick tended to play lead in the upper register as the improvisation unfolded, with Herbie providing telepathic accompianment with chords in the middle and lower register. Given identical instruments, it was instructive to hear the difference in tone; Chick brighter throughout the evening, Herbie darker and lush. This first piece segued into All Blues! I've always said great improvisors can make an old piece fresh; it took the audience a while to realize what they were hearing. Herbie, of course, was still with Miles when that tune was occasionally in the set list. Although only a year apart, Chick spoke of first seeing Herbie lead a jam session on a Monday night in 1959 at Birdland, and has considered him a hero ever since. Herbie spoke of once calling Chick from a recording session to make sure a tune he had just written wasn't in fact Chick's. The template was set for the evening's performance: an ultra-modern chromatic intro, which could range from ballad to stride, eventually turning into a re-worked chestnut from their pasts. Cole Porter's (You'd Be) So Easy to Love was a delight. The encores: Maiden Voyage, and then Spain, with Chick leading the audience in a four part sing-along harmony. At one point he had the audience sing back phrases he and Herbie were improvising. It literally took the audience inside the head of the performer. Bravo!
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