Sunday, March 2, 2008

HERBIE HANCOCK ON MY MIND


Herbie, I’m not writing this blog to apologize for the mean things I wrote about your performance at the 2007 Detroit International Jazz Festival. I meant every word. You have been on my mind lately. A few Saturdays ago, I got into a discussion with the founder of the Detroit Groove Society Andrew Rothman about your album “River the Joni Letters”.

Andrew is a real jazz aficionado. He host jazz concerts in the living-room of his Bloomfield Hills, MI home. You should look him up the next time you’re in Detroit. He’s a nice guy and he will talk your ears off about anything concerning jazz.

Andrew and I were standing in line at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge waiting to hear this new local jazz band called Sean Dobbins and the Modern Jazz Messengers. While we waited, Andrew asked what I thought about your album “River the Joni Letters” winning the coveted album of the year at the Grammys.

I told Andrew I hadn’t heard your album, and added I no longer thought of you as a jazz musician. I viewed you as a contemporary pop instrumentalist. I loved your work for Blue Note Records especially “Takin’ Off,” “My Point Of View,” and "Inventions and Dimensions". But I hated your Verve recordings “New Standards” and “1+1,” and your set at last year's Detroit jazz fest made my skin crawl.

But talking to Andrew made me want to buy "River". This afternoon I purchased it, and Herbie, an hour ago, I finished listening to it. I can’t say “River the Joni Letters” deserved the album of the year because I haven’t heard the other albums that were nominated. But, Man I really love this album.

Normally, I listen to an album over and over before I make any comments. “River” caught my senses right away. There isn’t a flaw on it. The best tracks are Court and Spark featuring Norah Jones, Edith and the Kingpin featuring Tina Turner, and The Jungle Line featuring Leonard Cohen. Herbie, your soloing on the four instrumental selections are exquisite. Herbie, Andrew also wondered if you winning would be good for jazz. I said absolutely not. Winning was an individual achievement only. Your market value would increase, but the industry wouldn’t rush to promote jazz, and major record companies such as Atlantic and Warner Brothers wouldn’t be anxious to resign the jazz musicians they downsized several years ago.

As I stated initially, I’m not apologizing for the mean things I've written about you. I just feel compelled to congratulate you on making a flawless album.
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