Dan Ouellette


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Dan Ouellette on Herbie Hancock:

Herbie Hancock is undeniably the most recognized name and performer in the jazz real. He came up in. Miles Davis’ ‘60s quintet—arguably the greatest jazz band ever—and then in the 70s he plugged in electronically, most famously with his funk-jazz fueled Headhunters band. He is a master player, evidenced when he plays duos shows with Chick Corea. Their magic was captured at Carnegie Hall a few years ago: Just walking on the stage together, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea garnered a standing ovation. Neither of them had touched their pianos yet, but it was a jazz fan’s dream to see them together after each had done so much to contribute to jazz history, surging ahead in their vibrant solo careers as Grammy Award-winning leaders. With two grand pianos on stage facing each other, they made their concert a regal recital. They manned their 88s and like kids on a playground began to riff off each other in a torrent of improvised passages. They looked at each other; they listened to each other. They played daintily and mysteriously, then pounced and scurried and rushed. Herbie would stop and Chick would fly and vice versa. But the best moments came when they countered, at times doing call-and-response sprints, looking at each other, smiling and marveling. It was journey music with conversations along the way—sometimes getting lost and then finding their ways, with the only question being where—and how—the trip would conclude. Nonetheless they magically landed safely. Herbie has adventurous in his bloodstream, He made countless contributions to the evolution of jazz, including working with hip hop[ stars and members of the L.A. jazz scene, including Kamasi Washington and Thundercat. One of his biggest achievements came at the 2008 Grammy Awards when his tribute to Joni Mitchell, River—The Joni Letters, scored the best album honors—a rarity for a jazz album. In 2014, he was appointed the Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University where he gave six lectures in a series title “The Ethics if Jazz.” Recently he has taken over the helm of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

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