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Herbie Hancock Memoir

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Herbie-Hancock-Secrets-364141.jpg

very, very cool look.

cover_49121422112010.jpg

not enough chest hair :)

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it's all over.

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I guess I'm arguing that anyone who has at some point decoupled from their muse almost always does so based on economics. I don't think Herbie is any different. He's certainly smart enough to realize that interest in the kind of music to which he had devoted his life was drying up. Time to switch gears in order to remain hip, relevant and, most importantly, marketable.

Rather than being a 70 year old "starving artist"? Uh, yeah, let's send him to the fields for wanting that, the damn ingrate. What's wrong with The Jazz Plantaion, huh?

The question is - when Herbie and others "change direction", what do they bring to it, which is at least as important as what they take (or seek to take) out of it. There's a lot of cases of alleged "sellouts" where the alleged "sellout" material is still done with taste & imagination, and the essential personality of the performer remains intact. Herbie's one, Miles is one, Maynard's one, Turrentine's one, Lou Donaldson's one, There's a bunch of 'em, actually. Johnny Hodges, there's another one. You may not like where they go, but oh well. Charging "sell out" reeks of self-righteous 60s "idealism", the kind that can't bring itself to deal with pragmatism, because being pragmatic condemns the soul to eternal damnation, or some such imaginary utopian bullshit.

It's also true, very true, in fact, that in some cases, more than not, actually, it's actually more commercially viable to hold what you got until the day you die. But people who like what that is never consider that maybe people be doing that for "commercial" reasons to, that it's got little or next to nothing to do with "muse" (which is nowhere near as "real" a proposition as many would like to believe) especially as time goes by) and everything to do with keeping them gigs.

Here's something - Herbie's Lite Me Up. For years, I hated that record. Not even ambiguously. Then one day, a friend of mine who's a damn fine musician, and very open-minded and hyper-critical said that he loved it. So I asked him why, and his response took me aback - "Hey, that's just Herbie making a L.A. Pop record. Nothing more." And yeah, you got Herbie collaborating with Rod Temperton (a true talent), and producing an album with players like Jeff Porcaro & Randy Jackson & Abe Laboriel & Steve Lukather, and guys like that. The Wrecking Crew of their time.

Now me, I don't really like the L.A. pop of that era too much, but...upon an objective listening, that's exactly what it is, and as such, it don't suck, and actually has some tunes with attractive moments, all of which are the result of Herbie's writing and/or Vocoderized vocals (and I don't say that casually, believe me...).

AFAIC, Herbie making "a L.A. Pop record" is not selling out in and of itself. If you decide to make music for a living and you have a desire to work in different areas out of a natural curiosity and/or a desire to "have success", then by god do it. Hell yeah, do it. Just don't do it in such a way that you're a plug-in generic on your own album, and don't put out something blatantly bad and pretend it's good when you know it's not. Lite Me Up does have a "Herbie Hancock flavor to it", and it is in no way "bad" musically.

It's still not what I like, but if Herbie wanted to make an L.A. pop record, for whatever reason, hell, why shouldn't he? He's a free man, not some beaten-down myopic jazz field-hand who gets lost on and off the bandstand without a ii-V and a ching-ching-a-ching, and god bless him for that, at the very least.

"Selling out" and "branching out" should not be confused, but they often are.

Too much math for R&B, some of this is...

Just enough math for R&B:

Of course, the rhythmic portion of the equation (as well as the allowance of the main melody to be a section of the composition rather than its entirety) is set-up to factor in not sitting still in a theater or riding an elevator while the melody is being expositated, although I have no ideal in god's great finishing school what part of the equation the hand gestures were input to trigger. Maybe it's a tribute to tuxedos of yore, who knows?

All of which to simply say that at some point, although apples and oranges can both be used in fruit salad, who wants an orange pie, and there's no such thing as apple zest.

Now, does it still rain in Indianapolis in the summertime, or has climate change pretty much wiped that out?

Reaching out in acknowledgement to a commercial audience :)

I would have bought the 45. If only I'd known.

There's live versions floating around that freakin' levitate.

It's a damn good song, period.

Song, not "jazz composition" or anything like that, just a song.

I'll take it!

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we clearly hear things differently. That stuff grates on my nerves; to me it's as funky as the Osmonds. If I'm looking for funk I go to the people who can do it - from the Isley's forward.

listening to that I felt like I was watching CHIPS.

I just find it awful. Jazz's version of Liberace.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Who said anything about "funk"?

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Timbre is rhythm too...

That was among my points, I think, though I'd rather say, again, that timbre can become rhythm, just as any other parameter (sorry for that word) can become any other (as in take on some of the essential in-action language qualities of the other in the course of the making). Fpr me, "is" a tad too determinative; it tends to imply that rhythm (or something else, but in this case rhythm) is the obvious, righteous boss. Tain't always so, McGhee -- not IMO.

Show me anything that happens at any level without vibration, and you'll be showing me something that doesn't exist. Everything is vibration.

Now, if it suits your personal frame of reference to say that vibration is boss instead of rhythm, that's a deal I'll make on nothing more than a smile and a handshake, no problem. I'm good for that one.

But- once you get past semantics and general usage oversimplifications of "rhythm = beat" and the like, I don't see how you get around vibration & rhythm being the same thing.

Sure, nothing happens at any level without vibration, just as nothing in the material world happens unless atomic particles are whirling around and bumping into and off of each other, but the thoughts, acts, and reactions of human beings are not caused by atomic motion. At the micro level where vibration is everything, there are one would think no rhythms, because at that micro level no human ear can perceive or differentiate, nor can human muscles or machines generate, a vibration that can't be broken down further to the universal vibratory hum. Even the subtlest rhythms one is aware of take place many levels (of perception and action) above the micro one where vibration is everything. My point then is that while all the musical parameters -- rhythm, harmony, melody, and timbre -- are vibratory, even the subtlest perceivers and actors among us deal with them at a level well above the micro level where vibration is everything (that's "above" not in terms of value but as in a level where things are more coalesced -- think perhaps of sounds< words in a specific language< sentences in that language, etc.) .

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Perception is reality only until you realize it's not. And then, it's like, ok...hmmm....and all that.

I mean, there may be some level even "below" basic vibration, something that might exist but we have no idea of it because we're not "there" yet, and don't even know enough to know that we might not be.

What I do know (for now) is that the more music I listen to (and the more I listen to it), the more the foundation/primacy of vibration/rhythm asserts itself in every conceivable aspect, and the less away from that I can get. Same thing with colors and the geometries of design (up to and including the shapes of peoples faces and the contours of their features), they all have a vibrational pulse, a rhythm, some of which immediately appeal/repulse, others of which intrigue and compel further review. But everything has its rhythms.

This has become my world, and I ain't complaining about it.

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we clearly hear things differently. That stuff grates on my nerves; to me it's as funky as the Osmonds. If I'm looking for funk I go to the people who can do it - from the Isley's forward.

listening to that I felt like I was watching CHIPS.

I just find it awful. Jazz's version of Liberace.

Bill Evans couldn't have done it.

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well, Herbie is clearly trying to be funky, find a groove, whatever you wanna call it - and he hasn't a clue. It's all Scarsdale blues.

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<br>well, Herbie is clearly trying to be funky, find a groove, whatever you wanna call it - and he hasn't a clue.<br>

And yet he succeeds!

Dude, it's not music that is aimed at/intended for you. It's for people who like "that kind of thing". You're not one of those people. Ever, I would suspect, not for this particular type of thing. Light, poppy, cheerful, danceable but not sweaty, that's never struck me as being "you".

And that should be ok, both for you and for it. If it's not...I don't know why it wouldn't be. In a world of nearly-infinite "that kind of thing"s, nothing is for everybody.

Being the center of your own world is ok (enough), but being the center of everybody's world is damn near impossible. And certainly not desirable!

Edited by JSngry

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It's all Scarsdale blues.

Uh oh, the "authenticity" bugaboo rears its head...

Edited by Pete C

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I guess I'm arguing that anyone who has at some point decoupled from their muse almost always does so based on economics. I don't think Herbie is any different. He's certainly smart enough to realize that interest in the kind of music to which he had devoted his life was drying up. Time to switch gears in order to remain hip, relevant and, most importantly, marketable.

Rather than being a 70 year old "starving artist"? Uh, yeah, let's send him to the fields for wanting that, the damn ingrate. What's wrong with The Jazz Plantaion, huh?

Herbie was 34 years old when he did Thrust.

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Oh, they get the Blues in Scarsdale, too, Baby!

Oh, they get the Blues in Scarsdale, too, Baby!

The yogurt shop's out of Cappucino Supreme

and my 401K is down to $1 million, maybe!

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There once was a man from Chicago

For whose music, most of us did go.

He cut his teeth with Miles Davis,

But for funk he did leave us

To him I can listen no mo'.

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now you're talking -

and yes, it is a question of authenticity - but not in the way you think. Because the problem isn't the consideration itself, but how authenticity is determined. Herbie is too middle class in his musical attitudes to pull any of this off in a way that's musically interesting. It's all synthetic. And not in some kind of ironic, detached way. It's really just crappy music, slick and shallow. And slick and shallow = inauthentic, at least to me.

authenticity is the ability to care enough about doing something so that it sounds like it comes from your own sense of self, from your own soul.

George Romney is inauthentic.

Rick Santorum is authentic (unfortunately).

authenticity is not a question of ethnicity of birthright or class - though sometimes, of course, it's related (listen to the difference in the way the old-time New Orlean jazzers play; some have the blues, other are like George Baquet).

If we did a blindfold test this would sound to us like a mediocre wedding band.

Edited by AllenLowe

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I guess I'm arguing that anyone who has at some point decoupled from their muse almost always does so based on economics. I don't think Herbie is any different. He's certainly smart enough to realize that interest in the kind of music to which he had devoted his life was drying up. Time to switch gears in order to remain hip, relevant and, most importantly, marketable.

Rather than being a 70 year old "starving artist"? Uh, yeah, let's send him to the fields for wanting that, the damn ingrate. What's wrong with The Jazz Plantaion, huh?

Herbie was 34 years old when he did Thrust.

Yeah, and that's a damn fine album too, still admired by many who don't "go all the way" with Herbie. Lots of music on that one. Lots.

You'd have made a potentially more credible point if you had referenced Secrets. But...you didn't.

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there once was a man from suburbia

who played funk like Jose Iturbi-a

but no matter how bad

he played it, that lad

still played it much better than Herbie-a

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If we did a blindfold test this would sound to us like a mediocre wedding band.

"Us"?

Really?

George Romney is inauthentic.

George Romney is dead.

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You'd have made a potentially more credible point if you had referenced Secrets. But...you didn't.

He was just a spring chicken when he did Thrust. Secrets didn't come for two more years. By then, he was a jaded and bitter old man. Friends have told me that around that time, they'd see Herbie on a street corner in NYC holding a sign that read "WILL FUNK FOR FOOD".

Edited by Dave James

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George died? I think you're confusing him with Mutt.

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there once was a man from suburbia

who played funk like Jose Iturbi-a

but no matter how bad

he played it, that lad

still played it much better than Herbie-a

Allen,

Those last lines in limericks are a bitch aren't they?

Edited by Dave James

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and yes, it is a question of authenticity - but not in the way you think. Because the problem isn't the consideration itself, but how authenticity is determined. Herbie is too middle class in his musical attitudes to pull any of this off in a way that's musically interesting.

Like George Benson & Lou Donaldson, right?

Damn those middle class values. Damn them all to hell.

They ruin everything they touch. Especially the Negro-American ones.

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This has turned out to be an incredible thread, yet there is this nit: funny how betrayed Allen seems by someone that he never liked to begin with!

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and yes, it is a question of authenticity - but not in the way you think. Because the problem isn't the consideration itself, but how authenticity is determined. Herbie is too middle class in his musical attitudes to pull any of this off in a way that's musically interesting. It's all synthetic. And not in some kind of ironic, detached way. It's really just crappy music, slick and shallow. And slick and shallow = inauthentic, at least to me.

authenticity is the ability to care enough about doing something so that it sounds like it comes from your own sense of self, from your own soul.

So a slick and shallow person making slick and shallow music is inauthentic because it doesn't sound like it's coming from a slick and shallow soul?

That's just too weird, dude.

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no, a real person playing slick and shallow music is slick and shallow.

and actually, impossible, the betrayal isn't personal - it's more ethical.

look, sometimes you gotta do the right thing. I once turned down a job offer from Jackie McLean.

Long story, which I will only tell privately. But people with much more to lose take much more principled stands than Herbie takes.

Edited by AllenLowe

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This has turned out to be an incredible thread, yet there is this nit: funny how betrayed Allen seems by someone that he never liked to begin with!

Certain things make Allen "uncomfortable". Apparently Herbie Hancock is one of them.

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