The incredibly versatile and consistently creative Herbie Hancock (b. April 12, 1940) has been and continues to be one of the most important and influential pianist/composers in the world over the past half century. Still going strong at age 73 the ever youthful and dynamic Hancock has not only played on an astonishing number of outstanding recordings as a leader and sideman of many excellent ensembles since 1962 but has also played and recorded with an extraordinary and truly eclectic list of contemporary iconic musicians and composers that includes everyone from Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson, Grachan Moncur, Tony Williams, Joe Henderson, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Roland Kirk, Ornette Coleman, Lee Morgan and Sam Rivers to Herbie's stellar six year membership in the famed Miles Davis "Second Great Quintet" from 1963-1969 that cemented Hancock's international reputation as one of the leading and most imaginative musicians and composers in the pantheon of the modern Jazz tradition since WWII. From this pinnacle of influence and inspiration Hancock has gone on to further excel in a very wide and broad array of musical styles and genres that often pioneered in the challenging creative synthesis of various styles of jazz with the best in pop, rhythm and blues, funk, and ethnic/world music traditions from the entire range of global styles and structural forms. Thus it is with great pleasure and genuine gratitude that we pay homage to the work and life of this artistic giant who continues to epitomize the very best in the always fecund African American tradition. Happy Birthday Herbie!...
by Herbie Hancock:
by Herbie Hancock:
by Herbie Hancock:
A truly timeless master and an
amazing human being.
We kick things off with a short interview
with Herbie followed by hours of his music.
Today is Herbie's day. He has earned it.
- Lester Perkins
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Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born on April 12, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois and considered a prodigy as a child. When Herbie was eleven years old he performed a Mozart concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Hancock began taking an interest in Jazz in his teens and transcribed records of Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans and also was into the vocal group the Hi-Lo’s. In his own words, “by the time I actually heard the Hi-Lo's, I started picking that stuff out; my ear was happening. I could hear stuff and that's when I really learned some much farther-out voicings -like the harmonies I used on 'Speak Like a Child' -just being able to do that. I really got that from Clare Fischer's arrangements for the Hi-Lo's. Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept... He and Bill Evans, and Ravel and Gil Evans, finally. You know, that's where it really came from. Almost all of the harmony that I play can be traced to one of those four people and whoever their influences were.” After high school Herbie attended Grinnell College where he double-majored in music and electrical engineering. Herbie quickly formed a reputation in Jazz in the 1960s performing with Donald Byrd, Coleman Hawkins, Oliver Nelson and Phil Woods and made his first album on Blue Note called ‘Takin’ Off’ in 1962.
Hancock’s first album caught the attention of Miles Davis and Herbie was asked to join his quintet in 1963 with Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Some of the classic albums recorded by the quintet include ‘E.S.P.’, ‘Nefertiti’ and ‘Sorcerer’ and he also appeared on Davis’ albums ‘Bitches Brew’, ‘In a Silent Way’ and ‘Tribute to Jack Johnson’ among others. It was Miles who first introduced Herbie to the Fender Rhodes and began his interest in electronic keyboards. During the 1960s Hancock also made many albums under his own name including ‘Empyrean Isles’, ‘Maiden Voyage’, ‘Speak Like a Child’ and others. Herbie also began his career in film composing the score to the film Blow Up and in television by composing the soundtrack to the show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. In the 1970s Hancock began experimenting more with electronic instruments in Jazz and formed a group with Buster Williams, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Julian Priester, Bennie Maupin, and Dr. Patrick Gleason. Albums this group made include ‘Mwandishi’, ‘Crossings’ and ‘Sextant’. These experimental albums led to the creation of one of Herbie’s most successful groups, The Headhunters, with Maupin, Bill Summers, Paul Jackson and Harvey Mason. The Headhunters were well received and their first album, ‘Head Hunters’, was the first Jazz album to go Platinum. By the mid 1970s Herbie was traveling around the world performing for stadium sized crowds. Hancock also continued with acoustic Jazz in the late ‘70s forming VSOP with the members of the Miles Davis Quintet minus Miles.
In the 1980s Herbie continued with VSOP II with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. In 1983 Hancock made an album with Bill Laswell called ‘Future Shock’ which went platinum and their hit song from that album “Rockit” won a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental and the music video won five MTV awards. Their follow up album ‘Sound System’ also won a Grammy. In 1986 Herbie won an Oscar for his work scoring the film Round Midnight. Highlights for Herbie in 1990s include his Acid Jazz album ‘Dis Is Da Drum’ in 1994 followed by ‘The New Standard’ with an all star band that won a Grammy in 1996. In ’97 Hancock and Wayne Shorter recorded a duo album called ‘1+1’ and the following year The Headhunters reunited and went on tour with the Dave Matthews band. Herbie’s most celebrated achievement of this decade is by far his 2007 album ‘River: The Joni Letters’ with Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland and Vinnie Colauita. There many special guests on this album as well including Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corrine Bailey Rae and Leonard Cohen. The album won a Grammy for Album of The Year and was the first Jazz album to do so in fifty years and only the second time ever a Jazz album has won the honors.
Herbie Hancock continues on making music and breaking barriers which only seem to exist for everyone except Herbie. The almost literally ageless Hancock has an unbelievable body of work and the thought that he is far from done is mind boggling. Herbie’s influence has reached nearly every genre of music in America and continues to simply make the music he wants to make in that moment without the rationalization that seems to hold back most others from reaching their potential. Herbie has won twelve Grammy Awards, an Oscar, NEA Jazz Masters Award, voted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame and so many others. I can’t wait to see what Herbie Hancock will do next.
“Practicing Buddhism has brought several revelations to me. One that has been extremely important to my own personal development and consequently my musical development — is the realization that I am not a musician. That’s not what I am. It’s what I do. What I am is a human being. Being a human being includes me being a musician. It includes my being a father, a husband, a neighbor, a citizen and an African-American. All of these relationships have to do with my existence on the planet."
“Creativity and artistic endeavors have a mission that goes far beyond just making music for the sake of music.”
“Without wisdom, the future has no meaning, no valuable purpose.”
"Since time is a continuum, the moment is always different, so the music is always different.” – Herbie Hancock
February 26, 2013
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Jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter named UCLA professors
By Shilo Munk
January 08, 2013
Renowned artists to mentor students as part of Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance's partnership with UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music today announced the appointment of multiple Grammy Award winners and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as UCLA professors. The two jazz greats are part of the school's Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.
This marks the first time these two artists have made such a major commitment to an educational institution, and the current class of students will be the first to learn from them on a regular basis.
"We are truly delighted to welcome Herbie and Wayne to the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music," said Christopher Waterman, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, which houses the school of music. "The arrival of these legends marks an important step in the growth of UCLA's distinguished jazz program, which provides students with the opportunity to study with the renowned guitarist and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Burrell, award-winning flutist and composer James Newton and leading Los Angeles–based jazz musicians such as Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, Charley Harrison, Barbara Morrison, Michelle Weir, George Bohanon, Tamir Hendelman and Justo Almario."
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA is a two-year graduate-level program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class; the current class includes seven students. The students, known as Thelonious Monk Fellows, will be taught each month by Hancock and Shorter throughout the academic year. The two professors will share their musical philosophies and the knowledge learned from their years of playing with the architects of jazz, including Miles Davis and Art Blakey. Both will focus on composition, improvisation and artistic expression, working with the students individually and as a group.
Additionally, Hancock and Shorter will lead master classes open to all UCLA students. Since the program began at UCLA in September 2012, Shorter has already taught for eight days and participated in a public performance with the Monk Fellows, and Hancock has taught for three days. On Dec. 6, 2012, Hancock and Shorter joined forces to conduct a historic master class at UCLA. This April, the Monk Fellows will accompany Hancock and Shorter to Istanbul to participate in a global, televised performance marking International Jazz Day.
"Wayne and I look forward to working with and guiding the new class of Monk Fellows over the next two years," said Hancock, chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute. "These exceptionally gifted young artists are destined to become some of the most influential jazz musicians of their generation, and we are both looking forward to helping them forge successful careers in jazz performance. The mentoring experience will be profound for us, as well. The gift of inspiration in the classroom that develops from the master–apprentice relationship enhances our personal creativity on the bandstand and in the recording studio."
In addition to these two legendary artists, the Monk Institute program at UCLA has been expanded to include Billy Childs, a world-class composer and the recipient of a coveted Guggenheim Fellowship. Also instructing the Monk Fellows are internationally renowned improvisation educators Hal Crook, Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts, all of whom add a new dimension to the program by sharing their comprehensive knowledge of jazz, addressing all elements of the students' playing and helping the students navigate the many styles and musical environments of jazz.
"When we established the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2007, one of our goals was to build on the stellar faculty and students in place and strengthen jazz as an essential, core component of the school's program," said Herb Alpert, chairman and founder of the Herb Alpert Foundation and principal donor to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. "The addition of the preeminent Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program brings a great richness of resources and talents to the mix, giving students even more opportunities to work with the world's great jazz artists."
All of the Thelonious Monk Fellows receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching and lectures on the jazz tradition. They also are encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. The current class will be the first to graduate with a master's degree in jazz performance from UCLA.
Since the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz launched its college-level jazz performance program in 1995, Monk Fellows have studied with world-renowned jazz artists Terence Blanchard, Ron Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jack DeJohnette, Barry Harris, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, Horace Silver and Clark Terry, among many others. These jazz legends serve as artists-in-residence in the college program for one week each month.
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance students and instructors present a number of major concerts and community outreach programs throughout the United States and overseas. International highlights have included performances at the celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the coronation of the king of Thailand, the Summit of the Americas in Chile before 34 heads of state, the United Nations' "Day of Philosophy" event in Paris sponsored by UNESCO, and the Tokyo Jazz Festival. The students have also participated in tours of China, Egypt, Argentina, Peru, India and Vietnam with Herbie Hancock.
"The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is honored to have Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock joining the faculty of our college program at UCLA, where they will share their vast musical experiences and expansive vision for jazz, past, present and future," said Tom Carter, president of the Thelonious Monk Institute.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization established in memory of Thelonious Monk, the legendary jazz pianist and composer. Monk was one of the primary architects of bebop, and his impact as both a performer and composer has had a profound influence on every genre of music. His more than 70 compositions are classics that continue to inspire artists in all disciplines. Monk believed the best way to learn jazz was from a master of the music. The institute follows that same philosophy by bringing together the greatest living jazz musicians to teach and inspire young people, offering the most promising young musicians college-level training by America's jazz masters through its fellowship program in jazz performance and presenting public school–based jazz education programs around the world. Helping to fill the tremendous void in arts education left by budget cuts in public school funding, the institute provides school programs free of charge and uses jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image and respect for one's own and others' cultural heritage.
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is devoted to the performance and study of music in all of its global diversity, including world music, popular music, jazz and classical music. The school's curriculum combines musical diversity, interdisciplinary studies, liberal arts values and professional training in a way that takes advantage of the school's position within a great research university. Students develop the practical and critical skills that prepare them for careers not only in professional performance and academia but in music journalism, the entertainment business, and the public and nonprofit sectors.
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