BWW Reviews: Hancock and Company Provide a Vast Array of Jazz at New Albany
With a white keytar strapped around his neck, Herbie Hancock provided one of the most musically iconic moments in the 1980s. His video for the instrumental "Rockit" came in 10th on the VH1's "100 Greatest Videos of All Time."
However, Hancock proved there's a lot more to him than the keytar to a mostly full Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts auditorium in New Albany on Oct. 8. During a two-hour concert, Hancock and his three-person band showcased a wide repertoire of jazz.
"It's dangerous up here tonight," Hancock said after his band had finished its opening number "Actual Proof. "I don't know what to expect from these three guys."
The three guys Hancock referred to were bassist James Genus, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarist Lionel Loueke. Each one of them is a respectable musician in their own right and Hancock made sure each one got their moment in the spotlight.
Genus plays with the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE house band and works as a session bassist for a number of different artists. Colaiuta, who was listed as Modern Drummer's most important drummer of our time, worked with Sting, Jeff Beck and Frank Zappa.
But it was Loueke, a 40-year-old guitarist from West Africa, who received the night's first standing ovation. During "Come Running To Me," the other three members left the stage one by one, leaving Loueke to close out the song. During a solo, Loueke even threw in a rift from Queen's "Another One Bites Dust" to a delighted audience.
Jazz great MiLes Davis insisted Hancock start using electric keyboards, which was unheard of in jazz at the time. Whether it was intentional or not, Hancock provided a microcosm of that crossover. During his solo, he started on a grand piano. Midway through, Hancock played with one hand on the grand piano and another on an electric keyboard and then seamlessly transitioned over to the electric keyboard.
The band played only nine songs in two hours, leaving plenty of time for lengthy jam sessions and solos. The esoteric nature of the performance was not for everyone apparently. About 90 minutes into the concert, audience members began leaving the show. By the time the quartet reached the song "Speak Like A Child" there were only three people left in my 17-seat row.
The show ended in a SPINAL TAP like moment. After the band finished playing the song "Cantaloupe" at the end of the first set, a large number of the audience headed for the exits. Hancock, Genus, Loueke and Colaiuta returned to the stage for their encore, only to find a half-filled house.
It didn't seem to matter as Hancock picked up his white keytar and launched into "Rockit" and "Chameleon." It was enough to draw back a few of the departed. Those who didn't stay missed a funky ending to a delightful concert.