field report no.081116

LOCATION: Prospect Park BK.NY
SUBJECT: Herbie Hancock

It's not a contradiction to say that Herbie Hancock is both a living legend and past his prime. He made a few missteps (like so many artists did in the 80s) and has settled into a relatively safe, repertory career. For me, personally, the abstract fusion of his early 70s Mwandishi band was Hancock's apex. One song they played this evening had shades of that group. It was simply titled Overture—as he said it was a work-in-progress. Perhaps that unfinished aspect is what gave it an amorphous, unsettled edge.

Even when Herbie shuttered the Mwandishis in favor of an overt turn towards popular funk music with the Headhunters, he and his crew remained advance players and their solos could burn. Most of this night felt like that—whether they trotted out Watermelon Man, or did some more straight acoustic jazz—they continually showed themselves to have chops well beyond anyone who usually plays so 'inside'.

NOTES: Herbie Hancock, with James Genus, Trevor Lawrence, Jr., Lionel Loueke, and Terrace Martin