Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock – Avalon, Boston, MA 3/26/02

Future to Future is being promoted as “Herbie’s first contemporary project since 1994 and a marriage of jazz and underground electronica.” The album includes work with

Bill Laswell along with a fistful of guest djs, singers and jazzers. The tour is being presented in surround sound so Avalon’s muscular technological capabilities were put to excellent use. Herbie was dressed smartly in a black blazer and black mock turtle neck. In his distinctive black specs, he looked healthy and dangerous while injecting philosophy in generous doses between songs

We don’t want to become slaves to technology.

Herbie recognizes the danger of playing with new toys but he is as fearless as he is curious. (His bass player had “more pedals than strings.”) It took about seven minutes to hear the piano or even a sound that would traditionally be made with a keyboard instrument. That time was spent in a spacey zone somewhere between Dark Star and Pretty Hate Machine. While synthesizers doodled and trippy images including sine waves, DNA helixes, spirals, and tornadoes projected on a rear screen, I was cursing myself for not smoking that joint before the show.

Knowledge is past.Wisdom is future.

Herbie’s adventurousness can’t be questioned but the trendy fusion of hip hop and (fill in your genre here:______) can. For the most part, DJ Disc was a harmless condiment and admittedly he occasionally added something to the mélange of textures and tempos put forth by the piano, keyboards, bass, trumpet, drums, and percussion. However even a talented scratcher like him being featured as the lead on one piece had most of the packed house lighting a cigarette or heading for the bar.

We’ve got a new millennium. When are we going to get some new music? I’d rather die trying to create music not already heard than keep making the some old music.

So the show had peaks and valleys but the man’s commitment to challenge himself and his audience must be appreciated by any fan of jazz. And when it worked, it worked wildly. The unrestrained integration of motifs from funk, rock, reggae, electronica, you name it.freed the soloists to improvise so far off the melody as to enter different area codes before finding it again just before you thought you’d forgotten it.

Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonius Monk, and I haven’t heard anybody yet who has come after him. – Miles Davis

The encores were stellar featuring Herbie’s nimble and speedy heroics. By the time Rockit (you know, dancing suits) and Chameleon were done the brush with genius clocked in at two and a half hours. -Eric Holland

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