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Herbie Hancock Memoir

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hear hear. How come when I say that stuff everybody gets pissed off?

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Why is it only Rock players seem to be able to make redeeming late career albums (Dylan, McCartney and probably others I am forgetting or not aware of).

Ray Davies: Other People's Lives and (especially) Working Man's Cafe. I sort of like his Kinks Choral Collection but I haven't heard his opportunistic new album with younger rockers, but his brother Dave is on record saying that Ray has become a karaoke act :)

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer & Electric Dirt

Van Morrison: A number of his albums of the last 10-15 years.

All depends on what you call late career. Was On the Corner late or mid-career Miles?

Shorter's quartet albums of the past 10 years are pretty vital as far as I'm concerned.

Edited by Pete C

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there is something to say, in terms of late career, for not having the financial pressures of musical success as well as public focus. Though I tend to think EGO is the thing - in other words, once you have that level of sales and popularity, it's hard to go back to the small clubs, little specialty blogs and magazines, etc. I can only speak personally; when no one cares what you are doing and no one wants to pay you a penny for it, it takes away certain kinds of creative pressure. That's, basically, how I really learned how to play the saxophone at age 53. Maybe if we all ignore Herbie, he'll go back to doing what he does best.

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Freelancer: Why should THEY do what you-or I-want them to? Although not a big shot I get props enough in a cold-ass burg like Heartbreak City, um, excuse me, NY. But I swear the next MF to give me advice I didn't ask for 'for my own good'-leave it like that. Let people live their lives and you live yours. When you become the shit the world will let you know. By copying you. And hoping no one gets hip so the money keeps rolling in.

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Maybe if we all ignore Herbie, he'll go back to doing what he does best.

Hardly. Since more people like what he doesn't do best, they're the one's who'll have to ignore him, but they'll only ignore him if he does what he does best...

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you know, that makes sense.....

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Freelancer: Why should THEY do what you-or I-want them to? Although not a big shot I get props enough in a cold-ass burg like Heartbreak City, um, excuse me, NY. But I swear the next MF to give me advice I didn't ask for 'for my own good'-leave it like that. Let people live their lives and you live yours. When you become the shit the world will let you know. By copying you. And hoping no one gets hip so the money keeps rolling in.

The point is not what I would want them to do, or good god, give 'them' advice. It's more about wider points like, what do 'they' want to do - or not do - because 'they' feel their current audience or standing in music wouldn't allow it. As this is a discussion board, I think it's a reasonable thing to debate - why late-career artists, who have been conceptual - and to varying degrees commercial leaders in their field, get subsumed into making records that seem generated by marketing - as much as muse. To personalise this kind of debate, as if you are talking about your next door neighbours, can come off sounding a bit feeble. Though I get your point to an extant. Sure, the greats have made the history, and therefore exercise their control and enjoyment in what public musical statements they choose to be bothered with, but what conditions have influenced those choices.

I think it's a shame - that a genius and innovator of the music like Herbie Hancock, has what might be his last two records, as a collection of Joni Mitchell re-harmonisations (with some mediocre guest spots), and a sub-world music all-star production. In some ways, these albums are like films that have to exist first as attention grabbing trailers - before they can be expanded to fully realised musical statements.

Do legendary music stars of other genres work within the conditions that they must find a marketing concept - and celebrity guest stars - before they can justify bothering with their 'projects'.

After George Benson made the 'Tenderly' album with McCoy Tyner, he said that he could never make an album like that again - not because he did not want to make instrumental jazz albums - but because he said that his commercial audience began to stop coming to his concerts, because they thought he was no longer playing his hits. End of George Benson engaging in Jazz. In respect to this, I also think it's a shame that the digital-age Jazz legacy of one of the greatest and last surviving guitarists from the golden-age, will most likely be some bad hand-held mobile phone footage of Benson sitting in on a few standards and blues. Though I am reminded of Miles Davis's statement to Wynton Marsalis re-revisiting the past as something like 'what's wrong - didn't we make the music right in the first place'?

Re- Allen Lowe perhaps it is ego to a point, but the constraints or pressure (or Herbie's desire) - to work with vocalists, might be a bigger factor. In the sense that he feels the need to use 'famous' singers to realise his vision, which may suggest ego again, stifling the true potential of the projects. If so it's a pity. Surely there are greater and more suitable vocalists to interpret such material. Also the commercial aspect of music in general, seems at odds with something like the Visual Arts - where ongoing creativity is seen as a lifelong thing. So I suppose your right in the sense that once a certain level of fame has been achieved, it's impossible to work in the mindset of 'just the art' and its social/cultural hopes. Although, after being re-directed by this thread and rediscovering some of the Herbie Hancock music I had either lost interest in - or wasn't that interested in anyway - and being reminded how powerful and urgent sounding much of it was back in the day, it really creates a sense of something else potentially great that has been lost to the contemporary moment. In other recognised arts languages - like the Visual Arts - it is often not always like this, as ongoing creativity is seen as a lifelong thing - to be expected and celebrated. Although there is a difference perhaps, in that the level of fame late-career Visual Artists have, is arguably not as visible or as subsumed into the 'entertainment industry' as much as most crossover jazz artists of the calibre of Hancock, Benson, Miles and even Metheny are.

Pete C - with regard to 'On The Corner' - personally I would think of it more like mid-career Miles, with the post-comeback music being his later stuff. Also, I think of late-career (without wanting to ring the death knells), as being maybe the last decade or so of an artists output. It is possibly a term more associated with the Visual Arts perhaps, which has a greater tradition of creative leaders (and especially lesser recognised people), whose works open out and flower beyond logical expectations. Or more simply, others that just strengthen and solidify their original genuis (in jazz a la Ornette, Rollins). In jazz, it just seems that this kind of thing is rare, and is paralleled instead by mid career/middle age illogical and unexpected brilliance - ie Electric Miles and Ornette. Even film provides more radical late career brilliance in people like Clint Eastwood, though I'm sure film people would know more.

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you know, this may all be Herbie's cosmic commentary on post-modern commercial mediocrity -

or not.

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Freelancer-I did what I asked you not to by expecting you to act as I would like. My bad-yet a 'teachable moment (as worldwide sounds of pens swishing on fresh firearm receipts are heard). See, my friendships are long and deep. Given that all us overgrown kids are pains in the ass one looks to evaluate 'despite' this and that. So I mentioned to a friend of 35 yrs. Who never listens but jumps in with pins to de-air your point before you've finished. To his credit when I finally tell him to shut the f up he does. A little. So I was summing up my live-and-let live view quoting Joe Pass-who I've found wise on many matters:some interviewer was pushing him through the trap door-or he himself was about to plunge, but stopped himself from musically parsing, or judging a cat or a style or generation. 'I don't want to put anyone down, I just want to do my own thing'. My friend, as expected, trashed that as facile, then went onto the good Pass of Sounds of Synanon vs the formulaic Pass of later years-not too far afield

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Pt. 2:...from these proceedings. Rewind to a conversation w/an even older friend-again re Pass who was doubtless panting after all this discourse. The MF's 'thing' is play that gtr.-not succumb to the annoying costs of fame. This time I was the heavy-musing on what Joe might sound like had he took a breather and dug a bit deeper. He was the greatest, but WAS phoning it in at least a little. My friend who is wise and a succsessful pop gtrst. (the other guy is a jazz gtr. great always held back by that mouth and other winning ways-though a great guy in the end) had this take: 'you're going from gig to gig w/o time for 'The Metamorphosis'' Now I'm not saying this applies to the folks spoken of here. We're not inside the other guy's soul, as I told Stanley Crouch as he cleaned the clock of Miles's career choice inbetween the short work he was making of a big-ass fish. If I put y'all down for the putting down I'm phony and a holier-than-thou sort of the ilk I despise. So-'I don't want to put anyone down...'

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Oh, and I quite disagree re 'personalizing'. It's when you talk about people you DON'T know that it's feeble and speculative, even vicarious. I try to keep to what and who I DO know-or (what I) believe I know. 'When you believe in things you don't understand-then you suffer...Superstition ain't the way...'

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Oh, and I quite disagree re 'personalizing'. It's when you talk about people you DON'T know that it's feeble and speculative, even vicarious. I try to keep to what and who I DO know-or (what I) believe I know. 'When you believe in things you don't understand-then you suffer...Superstition ain't the way...'

That's patently absurd. One of the most visible musicians on the planet! And the context and quality of his discog is not up for critical discussion. Come on. But hey, I do get that you have connections and business to take care of. I don't. So I'm happy to run with the discourse surrounding a musician for the ages. I guess it's a bit like walking into an art gallery with a friend and

passing comment to each other about what's on the wall. In this case it's Herbie Hancock.

'C'mon Herbie pull your finger out. Write some better tunes and ditch the warblers. Do it for the gipper'.

Do you have any thoughts on Hancock's 'standards' project that you would be willing to share? ie his intent to elevate contemporary pop songs into the 'jazz cannon'? Was this as interesting as the Bad Plus? Or just different?

Edited by freelancer

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I have no thoughts about something I haven't heard. I took one of HH's recent 'events' out of the 'berry. Uneventful, ergo unceremoniously returned. I have no 'business', have never been afraid to speak my mind (maybe that's why?), and the few 'connections' are breaking their asses just staying connected. I would never ask for anything, and doubt I'd get it or the clubhouse door'd swing magically open for the asking. God bless the child. Also FYI George Benson sits in all over the place-gratis. You can hardly get him to sit down. If that's not a statement... Probably after he's gone ('after he's gooone a-waaa-ay') bootlegs galore will surface, the better to enrich the scum-sucking leeches recording him on the sly.

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One last thing. People can DISCUSS all they want. That's human. It's the JUDGING-also human-that's the proverbial slippery slope. More importantly my or your expressed consternation has 0 effect on anyone's choices of ANY kind. Anyway I'm trying to follow the example of Charlie Parker cooling out Earl Wilson's blathering on TV by saying 'music speaks louder than words'. Not there yet, but I did write a tune: Louder Than Words. So it resonated for me. I won't get into why here, but of late I've been around more 'saved' Chsistians than I hope to see for many years. Talk about some judgemental MFs. I guess that's why I'm a bit touchier on this now. You know, here's $5. Get saved and have the fucking Kool Aid. OVER THERE. Leave me out of your fucking fantasy, and especially: judge me? Step right up. But it's on YOU...

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Saved ChSistians?! Oh SHIT! THAT'S why!! Cue Emily Latella-very underemployed lately-to put down the Mop n Glo and the hoagie she was sneaking to raise her head and declaim 'Oh. That's VERY DIFFERENT. NEVER MIND...

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Anyway I'm trying to follow the example of Charlie Parker cooling out Earl Wilson's blathering on TV by saying 'music speaks louder than words'.

candi_staton_music_speaks_louder_than_words.JPG

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Candi Staton - Fro Bowl Hall Of Fame, NO doubt!

1015135.jpg

I see some signs amongst the young folks my daughter's age that the Fro is thinking about making a comeback. I'm a fan!

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Nice looking gal. What are you, holding out on the rest? :(

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Thanks for posting that youtube video from the 1974 Bremen performance - brings back memories - it was that German tour during which I saw that band live and watching Bill Summers was the key experience that made me want to become a serious percussionist. But I must admit I learned more form Herbie as far as rhythmic improvisation is concerned than from any drummer or percussionist ...

I saw Headhunters around the same time, perhaps the same tour but I'm a bit hazy about the date. One memory stands out. Hancock suddenly appearing in true rock star fashion from behind the bank of keyboards with bang and a large amount of stage smoke. Was it the same for you Mike?

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