Hancock exemplifies group synergy


ND Performance Herbie

It is amazing when such an international artist can be standing in front of a packed house here in Carmel (imagine seeing Prince at the Palladium if you are a pop fan).

For some listeners, the only music they knew from Herbie Hancock was an electronic hit back in the ’80s called “Rockit,” but obviously, his catalog includes much more. I first heard him when he was with Miles Davis on one of the most revolutionary jazz albums ever recorded, “Bitches Brew.”  Miles, at that time, surrounded himself with a new group of young geniuses, and Herbie was quite capable.

The show opened with the drummer, Trevor Lawrence, and James Genus on bass (some of you may recognize him from the “Saturday Night Live” band). They were quickly joined by Lionel Lueke on guitar. The intro music was a tight Scofield-sounding romp as Herbie entered the stage. People were on their feet.

If you look up “tight” in the dictionary, it should mention Herbie Hancock and his band. It is not a surprise he was a child prodigy followed by musical degrees from Grinnell College and time at Roosevelt University. The transition from “Actual Proof” to “Seventeens” and “Watermelon Man” was the nastiest (in a good way) I have ever experienced. This song, for most musicians, would be impossible to perform. They actually go back and forth from “Seventeens” (named for the 17 beats in a measure) to “Watermelon Man.” Simply put, it was insane.

Throughout the show, Herbie commented on jazz idols, his love of the area (he grew up in Chicago) and the amazing band around him. It was as if the entire band was one person when playing. The breaks within songs were flawless, as was the entire show. Bravo, Palladium. Bravo.