I’ve been on a heavy 60s Miles Davis kick lately, and his 2nd great quintet just leaves me speechless. The sheer brilliance of these 5 guys working together like a well oiled machine just does it for me.
Listening to the song Madness on Nefertiti, I realize how Ron Carter’s playing adds just the right amount of weighty heft from 23 seconds in, like a master chef adding in the right amounts of an ingredient. Not too much, and not too scant - just right. Then there’s the 21 year old Tony Williams riding the cymbals. Did I mention he’s 21? Yeah, that’s a 21 year old.
Miles sure knew how to pick the right people. No one assembled groups better outside of Duke Ellington who was the expert in large groups. For small groups Miles reigned supreme. His consistency in this regard is unmatched. His expertise goes beyond being a talented horn player. He was a leader among leaders. This is the key thing that separates him from the pack in my opinion.
Born on this day: Donald Byrd. Behind him in this picture is Herbie Hancock.
Photo by Francis Wolf
My interview with Lionel Loueke »
Last week, I sat down with Lionel Loueke for an interview. We talked about his humble beginnings in Benin, how he discovered jazz, and his influences, among other things. He also talked about how he got signed to Blue Note records, and what it was like working with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.
Click here to read the full interview.
Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis with the Miles Davis Quintet at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, 1964. Photo by Piter Doele, scanned from the book Swartwite Tiden.
mybutbeautiful: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERBIE HANCOCK... »
I am usually pretty good at controlling the contents of my mouth while dining, except when a challenging thought comes completely out of left field. Atane and I stopped for a late dinner after catching Seun Kuti’s performance at The Highline Ballroom. The show was great so there was good reason to dine and debrief afterwards. Somewhere in the middle of that process, and I don’t recall how we got there, the subject of “smooth” jazz came up. Come to think of it I might have referenced a post I made about Grover Washington Jr just prior to that outing.
It was at this point that the contents of my mouth, thankfully just coffee, became a menace, a projectile that launched in Atane’s general direction. Bad timing on Atane’s part to have chosen the moment I took a sip to speculate what John Coltrane’s musical output might have sounded like had he explored a “smoothening” of his jazz art or roots. My brain lost control of my mouth at the thought which had never ever entered my mind. Timing is everything, so to avoid a lap full of coffee when dining with me, pay careful attention.
What ultimately came out of the conversation is the idea that it is perfectly natural for a musician, especially with one in the highly improvised art of jazz music, to take their facility is various directions and that indeed does include directions that hardcore fans sometimes frown upon or heap disapproval upon. The core point for me is to avoid comparisons between artist with limited facility to begin with and the those possessed of the mastery and talents of legends.
Given the scope and breadth of HERBIE HANCOCK’s repertoire, it is a safe bet that he can and will explore all the terrain his curious and healthy mind sees fit to. Some of it we might love, some of it might provoke indifference in us. The fact will always remain that it is Herbie Hancock doing the exploring and no matter what direction he goes in, he can always find his way home, back to his traditional roots. That’s a whole lot more than I can say for some other musicians smooth or hard.
Happy Birthday Herbie Hancock
Cheers Henry. Nice write-up!
Herbie Hancock - One Finger Snap
Today is Herbie Hancock’s birthday btw. He turns 72.
Remembering Lee Morgan. 40 years ago on this day (Feb. 19th), Morgan was murdered onstage by Helen More. What a loss! He was just 33 years old.
Anyway, here’s Search For The New Land by Morgan with Wayne Shorter, Grant Green, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins and Reggie Workman.