February 11, 2008

What's Herbie Hancock up to, part 2

In addition to this, winning a Grammy Award for Album of the Year for a collection of Joni Mitchell numbers featuring other luminaries such as Leonard Cohen and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Apart from the record industry accolades, Hancock cemented his reputation more than 40 years ago as a member — along with Shorter — of Miles Davis's Second Great Quintet. That group, which also included drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter, was arguably the greatest jazz ensemble of all time and released a string of brilliant recordings including Miles Smiles, E.S.P., and Nefertiti, not to mention a number of amazing official and bootlegged live sets.

Shorter went on to, among many other things, form Weather Report with the late Joe Zawinul and the legendary bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius, a troubled genius who died tragically at 35 after being beaten by a bouncer outside a bar in Fort Lauderdale.

Jaco, Shorter, and Hancock have all been repeated former collaborators of Joni Mitchell's. It's nice to see a Grammy Award occasionally going to an actual musician, for producing actual music.

A Lifetime Achievement Grammy went to The Band, who the AP describes as "the Canadian rock group," except drummer/vocalist Levon Helm is from Arkansas. So is Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, who hired The Band back when they were The Hawks, before they went on to achieve fame and fortune with Bob Dylan. "I can't promise you a lot of money, boys," Hawkins supposedly told songwriter Robbie Robertson, "but you'll get more pussy than Frank Sinatra."

So the Canucks can't take all the credit for The Band, like they can for Joni Mitchell, who is from Saskatchewan.

Herbie Hancock's distinctive piano voicings, with the Miles Davis Quintet, Stockholm, 1967: 'Round Midnight (YouTube, 8:30).

The Band, from the Martin Scorsese documentary, The Last Waltz, feat. Pops and Mavis Staples: The Weight (YouTube, 4:33).

And, last but certainly not least, Joni Mitchell's moving tribute to an aviator who disappeared: Amelia (YouTube, 7:12).


Anonymous said...

Refreshing read. All I've seen in the popular press is bitching and moaning about Amy Winehouse having been robbed by Herbie Hancock -- HERBIE HANCOCK, FOR GOD'S SAKE!1 -- as if that Rockit video with the robot lady legs was all he had to his name.

Thank you for the rundown of his genius.

illusory tenant said...

Excerpt from an online Grammy-chat between readers and one of the the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's music writers:

Q: Paul of Milwaukee - How excited are you that Slayer were recognized for the true talent they are with a Best Metal Performance Grammy for Final Six from Christ Illusion?

A: Dave Tianen - Hi Paul. I can honestly say that I have been able to keep my elation at manageable levels. I think Slayer is as relevant to contemporary music as... well maybe Herbie Hancock.

That's a sad commentary -- on music writers.