Recognized as a legendary pianist and composer for compositions such as “Cantaloupe Island,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Watermelon Man,” “Chameleon,” and “Rockit,” Herbie Hancock has received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters (2007) and two Grammy Awards for his globally collaborative The Imagine Project (2010).
CAPA presents Herbie Hancock at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (100 E. Dublin-Granville Rd., New Albany) on Tuesday, October 8, at 8 pm. Tickets are $35-$65 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.
This performance is made possible through the generous support of Corna Kokosing. The 2013-2014 Marquee Season is presented by the Limited Brands Foundation.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science, and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.
In 1960, Herbie was discovered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. After two years of session work with Byrd, as well as Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed with Blue Note as a solo artist. His 1963 debut album, Takin’ Off, was an immediate success, producing the hit “Watermelon Man.”
In 1963, Miles Davis invited Hancock to join the Miles Davis Quintet. During his five years with Davis, Hancock and his colleagues Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums) recorded many classics, including “ESP,” “Nefertiti,” and “Sorcerer.” Later on, Hancock made appearances on Davis’ groundbreaking “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew,” which heralded the birth of jazz-fusion.
Hancock’s own solo career blossomed on Blue Note, with classic albums including Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles, and Speak Like a Child. He composed the score to Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blow Up, which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.
After leaving Davis, Hancock put together a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded Head Hunters. With its crossover hit single “Chameleon,” it became the first jazz album to go platinum.
By mid-decade, Hancock was playing for stadium-sized crowds all over the world and had no fewer than four albums in the pop charts at once. In total, he had 11 albums in the pop charts during the 1970s. His ‘70s output inspired and provided samples for generations of hip-hop and dance music artists.
Hancock also stayed close to his love of acoustic jazz in the ‘70s, recording and performing with VSOP (reuniting him with his Miles Davis colleagues), and in duet settings with Chick Corea and Oscar Peterson.
In 1980, Hancock introduced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world as a solo artist, producing his debut album and touring with him as well. In 1983, a new pull to the alternative side led Hancock to a series of collaborations with Bill Laswell. The first, Future Shock, again struck platinum, and the single “Rockit” rocked the dance and R&B charts, winning a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The video of the track won five MTV awards. “Sound System,” the follow-up, also received a Grammy in the R&B instrumental category.
Hancock won an Oscar in 1986 for scoring the film Round Midnight, in which he also appeared as an actor. Numerous television appearances over the years led to two hosting assignments in the 1980s—”Rock School” on PBS and Showtime’s “Coast to Coast.”
After an adventurous 1994 project for Mercury Records, Dis Is Da Drum, he moved to the Verve label, forming an all-star band to record 1996’s Grammy-winning The New Standard. In 1997, an album of duets with Wayne Shorter, 1+1, was released.
The legendary Headhunters reunited in 1998, recording an album for Hancock’s own Verve-distributed imprint and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the recording and release of Gershwin’s World, which included collaborators Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea. It won three Grammys in 1999, including Best Traditional Jazz Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance for Stevie Wonder’s “St. Louis Blues.”
Herbie reunited with Bill Laswell to collaborate with some young hip-hop and techno artists on 2001’s FUTURE2FUTURE. He also joined with Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker in 2002 to record a live concert album, Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall, a tribute to John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
Possibilities, released in 2005, teamed Hancock with many popular artists such as Sting, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone, and Damien Rice. Later that year, he played a number of concert dates with a re-staffed Headhunters and became the first-ever Artist-In-Residence at the Tennessee-based festival Bonnaroo.
In 2007, Hancock recorded and released River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell featuring Wayne Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and co-produced by Larry Klein. He enlisted vocalists Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen, and Mitchell herself to perform songs she wrote or was inspired by. The album received glowing reviews and was a year-end Top 10 choice for many critics. It also garnered three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
In 2010, Hancock released the critically-acclaimed CD, Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project, winner of two 2011 Grammy Awards for Best Pop Collaboration and Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Utilizing the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility, the album was recorded around the world and features a stellar group of musicians including Jeff Beck, Seal, Pink, Dave Matthews, The Chieftains, Lionel Loueke, Oumou Sangare, Konono #l, Anoushka Shankar, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Tinariwen, and Ceu.
Recently named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair for Jazz, he also currently serves as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the foremost international organization devoted to the development of jazz performance and education worldwide. Hancock is also a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was recently awarded the much esteemed Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. In 2011, Hancock was designated an honorary UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, recognizing Hancock’s dedication to the promotion of peace through dialogue, culture, and the arts.
CAPA presents HERBIE HANCOCK
Tuesday, October 8, 8 pm
McCoy Center (100 E. Dublin-Granville Rd., New Albany)
Columbus native Aaron Diehl is the 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz of the American Pianists Association. Hailed by The New York Times as a “revelation” and the Chicago Tribune as, “The most promising discovery that [Wynton] Marsalis has made since Eric Reed,” Diehl’s distinctive interpretations of the music of Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, and other masters pays homage to the tradition while establishing his own original voice. Tickets are $20-$30 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. Young people between the ages of 13-25 may purchase $5 PNC Arts Alive All Access tickets while available. www.capa.com