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Herbie Hancock Memoir

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

and it gets weirder - just listen to Herbie.

Dude, you're just chasing your own tail now.

Have at it.

And just to give you some Red Bull to fuel the run...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcEwFuU5irU&feature=related

Try not to have a heart attack, please.

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well, there are two issues -

the first is the quality of the music, which I really feel is sub par. We shall continue to disagree about this. No problem from here.

the second is based on certain principles. I do think Herbie has violated them, but more so by pretending he hasn't violated them.

just my take.

and no heart attack; feeling good. Just took a stress test and scored about 20 percent better than the norm for my age group.Herbie can't hurt me anymore.

Edited by AllenLowe

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What "principles" has he violated, exactly? And whose are they?

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the sacred principles of the honest jazz musician. The Golden Rule. A few commandments and maybe one or two constitutional amendments.

Edited by AllenLowe

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and no heart attack; feeling good. Just took a stress test and scored about 20 percent better than the norm for my age group.

That's a good thing. I'm finally emerging from a too-long period of avoiding exercise and sensible eating. Hope it's not too late, don't think it is. But it's going to be a loooooong road back.

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it's hard, trying to keep the weight down and my incentive up. Living in the desert here, intellectually speaking.

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Why all the hand wringing. I am not interested in the book. Case closed for me. If you want to read it, good for you.

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the sacred principles of the honest jazz musician.

Yeah, well, that and four quarters will get you change for a dollar. And then the baby can have toothpaste for supper.

Look, you don't like the music. I get that. But as a musician, I would encourage you to at least check out what is happening in this music you don't like before you go off head-first into something like this. "Middle class" as it might be, there's more often than not some thoughtful musical choices being made, which is not something you get often enough in any music. That should at least be respected, even if everything else about it is still hated.

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Why all the hand wringing.

That's not hand-wringing. That's hands desperately trying not to clap on 1 & 3.:party:

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I don't see how anyone who likes funk can listen to albums like Headhunters, Thrust, Man Child, etc. and NOT think it's absolutely smokin'. Again, I encourage a review of what happens at 8:36 from "Chameleon." The band starts channeling otherworldly levels of pure funk deliciousness of drumming and basslines the likes of which have rarely been equaled. I don't see his electric funk material as a sell-out in any sense of the term. Herbie was just plain bad ass. While I'll agree he lost the touch by albums such as Sunlight it's not like there wasn't a whole lot going on before that point (and isn't there a bit of leniency when one is clearly reaching for that next step?). And when Herbie made pop music he made some cuts that have really stood the test of time (ei. early Michael Jackson or "Rockit" [jam and a half, don't fight it]).

Listening to Speak Like A Child now...wow, I can't imagine what the beef is with this fine record. Beautiful stuff.

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While I'll agree he lost the touch by albums such as Sunlight...

Sunlight & Secrets both, I have come to appreciate much more in the last few years, as I've come to more fully appreciate "dance music" (what was conveniently but ultimately sloppily labeled as "disco" at the time) as dance music and not expecting everything to be overtly aimed at also being "mentally engaging" (which was definitely going with those first Headhunters-era records). Finally hearing what it is that is trying to be done rather than what I'm expecting to happen. Sunlight in particular has some really nice tunes on it that might have benefited from just a teence more imaginative arrangements or productions. Perhaps not coincidentally, that's the time the whole VSOP thing started happening, so...too many irons in too many fires, maybe.

The ones I've still not gotten into are Feets Don't Fail Me Now & Monster. Those...should not have happened..but they did, so, hey. But Mr. Hands is a bitch, so it's not like the well was totally dry during those years.

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Just listened to all the electronic Herbie cuts that Jim and others have posted, and I have to say that I like them all much more than I do "Speak Like A Child." Seriously.

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They ain't bad, ya' know?

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Noj: (I can't scroll far down enough w/the cellphone to hit 'reply'). They 'gave' Chameleon not long ago and I really listened-and loved it. Where it went, how it built and developed, all the stuff Benny Maupin played... let's just say it had its own thing, and also that a lot of 'hip' beboppers who looked down their noses at it would even today be scratching their respective noses and asses trying to build off a groove, 2 chords, and that little melody that's yet so focussed. I wouldn't even try it on guitar-I've been too ruined playing the prettier stuff. I need at least 3 chords! (; This kind of playing takes real discipline, restraint, and is its own craft. I just left a musicians wedding party with a room full of cats-pretty good, too-at least a few. I'd be VERY surprised if even one could, let alone WOULD do right by Chameleon-and that was made...what, 35, 40 years ago... Herbie did a lot, this is but a small example...

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What I really dig is on "I Thought It Was You" is the bass walkdown into the chorus. That's such a simple thing, but it's perfectly set up and it works, kind of like a waiter in a good restaurant who delivers your food with a little extra flourish, not a lot, but just enough to give it that little extra something, kinda like saying, yeah, I know you'll enjoy it, but I want to let you know that I'll be enjoying you enjoying it. I love it when people do shit like that.

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I have a difficult time begrudging Herbie's success, in main because (as was pointed out somewhere up the thread) it seems as if commercial considerations have always been apart of his aesthetic raison d'etre. Someone pointed out not too long ago that he's had at least one major hit every year since the 60's. It seems crazy/difficult to conceptualize, but Herbie's post-Headhunter's career is now nearly three and a half decades long, which greatly outstrips his peak years (let's say roughly '63-'73, which encompasses his joining the Miles band right up to the end of Mwandishi) as an interloper in something resembling "creative"/noncommercial strains of jazz. In view of this, it's easy to frame Herbie has a commercial thinker who just happens to have a functional, sometimes active understanding of both experimental traditions (there are plenty of stories of Mwandishi listening to Stockhausen and late Trane on tour) and innovation (Herbie's championing of Ornette), rather than a once specifically experimental voice who cashed in when the getting was good.

For this reason, Herbie's "commercial" music is not nearly as oppressive to me as, say, Bobby Hutcherson's, since it's not as if Bobby's spent much time after the 70's with Joni Mitchell, for example. Perhaps it's my own natural affinity for dross and whatnot, but I'm of the mind that Herbie's playing tends to elevate bleak musical environs (and not the other way around--i.e., it's not often that a crappy band really makes Herbie play worse). Herbie's just like Wayne in that he's this kind of musical Zelig, wandering through the landscape of 20th century music and treating the latter as this vague chunk of non-hierarchical ideas. I genuinely wonder whether Herbie thinks Stockhausen is/would be considered "greater" than Sly, because there's a staggering continuity of energy and "do-it-to-it"ness in the corridor between Mwandishi and Sunlight.

It always struck me how deliberate and unagonized Herbie was in the shift from outer space (Mwandishi) back down to earth (Headhunters). Is wanting a bigger audience the same thing as wanting more money? Or, rather, is populism the same thing is crassness? I don't think it's that simple, especially in Herbie's case.

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While I'll agree he lost the touch by albums such as Sunlight...

Sunlight & Secrets both, I have come to appreciate much more in the last few years, as I've come to more fully appreciate "dance music" (what was conveniently but ultimately sloppily labeled as "disco" at the time) as dance music and not expecting everything to be overtly aimed at also being "mentally engaging" (which was definitely going with those first Headhunters-era records). Finally hearing what it is that is trying to be done rather than what I'm expecting to happen. Sunlight in particular has some really nice tunes on it that might have benefited from just a teence more imaginative arrangements or productions. Perhaps not coincidentally, that's the time the whole VSOP thing started happening, so...too many irons in too many fires, maybe.

The ones I've still not gotten into are Feets Don't Fail Me Now & Monster. Those...should not have happened..but they did, so, hey. But Mr. Hands is a bitch, so it's not like the well was totally dry during those years.

I have both Sunlight and Secrets and will re-listen. Thanks Jim.

Joel, as a non-musician I just don't have the insight to hear music for the level of difficulty in terms of playing, but thanks for your comment.

Since I know Larry Kart and Allen Lowe are as knowledgeable a pair as there is in the world of jazz, I know to respect their opinions in any discussion. They hear what my untrained ears will likely never have the scope to understand. All the same I'm listening to "Toys" from Speak Like A Child now, and I think it's pretty.

It would be pretty boring if we all agreed all the time, and I love reading the sheer expertise from all you guys. Great thread.

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Noj: (I can't scroll far down enough w/the cellphone to hit 'reply'). They 'gave' Chameleon not long ago and I really listened-and loved it. Where it went, how it built and developed, all the stuff Benny Maupin played... let's just say it had its own thing, and also that a lot of 'hip' beboppers who looked down their noses at it would even today be scratching their respective noses and asses trying to build off a groove, 2 chords, and that little melody that's yet so focussed. I wouldn't even try it on guitar-I've been too ruined playing the prettier stuff. I need at least 3 chords! (; This kind of playing takes real discipline, restraint, and is its own craft. I just left a musicians wedding party with a room full of cats-pretty good, too-at least a few. I'd be VERY surprised if even one could, let alone WOULD do right by Chameleon-and that was made...what, 35, 40 years ago... Herbie did a lot, this is but a small example...

I've spent plenty of time in the past few years playing Fela Kuti's music, and as someone whose spent twice as much time playing standards and improvised music, I can testify to how much sheer, painful discipline it takes to stick with the chicken picking/R&B riff tradition. I'm squarely of the mind that, at least in terms of the James Brown/Sly/Kuti continuum, the guitar is the most limited instrument in the entire band--not as flexible, by virtue of range and timbre (i.e., you pop out like crazy when you try something weird), as bass, and not as free as the keys or horns.

Granted all this, I'm slightly wary of the possibilities of guitar as a soloistic funk instrument--the minute the groove drops out, you have problems, and at least keyboards are by their very nature doggedly contrapuntal. Grant Green solved this problem majestically, if dryly--he just turned the guitar into another horn, rather than a "rhythm section instrument"--but for every Grant there are hundreds of players employing the same baldly worn out Hendrixisms as a way to step "out" of the funk texture. Some guys--like Charlie Hunter--have found a way out of the Hendrix/stay on one chord ghetto, but I completely get what you're saying in terms of wanting to stick to "the prettier stuff." Real, solid funk guitarists possess a heroic amount of self-restraint.

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"Since I know Larry Kart and Allen Lowe are as knowledgeable a pair as there is in the world of jazz..."

Oh, my God, no! :o

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Re: Herbie & business - he was one of the first, under Donald Byrd's tutelage, to actively investigate controlling his own publishing from the "beginning" rather than accepting the status quo.

So, yeah, Herbie got his business chops together, consciously and deliberately, and seems to have always wanted it that way.

That's not a problem for me.

the James Brown/Sly/Kuti continuum,

I say this with a twinkle, but also with complete seriousness - is this continuum something that you young folk now recognize and accept without a whole lot of botheration?

World gone right for a change it it is.

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"Since I know Larry Kart and Allen Lowe are as knowledgeable a pair as there is in the world of jazz..."

Oh, my God, no! :o

^_^:w:winky:

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Re: Herbie & business - he was one of the first, under Donald Byrd's tutelage, to actively investigate controlling his own publishing from the "beginning" rather than accepting the status quo.

So, yeah, Herbie got his business chops together, consciously and deliberately, and seems to have always wanted it that way.

That's not a problem for me.

the James Brown/Sly/Kuti continuum,

I say this with a twinkle, but also with complete seriousness - is this continuum something that you young folk now recognize and accept without a whole lot of botheration?

World gone right for a change it it is.

I don't speak on behalf of young musicians everywhere, but I did ask a drummer friend of mine right in the middle of a rehearsal yesterday--"do you remember the last time you had trouble juggling so many genres?" He replied, plainly, "I don't think I've ever thought of it in that way."

All I know is that I have to activate the same nerve centers playing afrobeat that I do playing neo-soul that I do playing JBs type stuff. I don't think of it all as "the same," but the notion of a continuum is very present and real for me.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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Jon: Please don't EVER put yourself on a lower tier than musicians for not playing. Humility is one thing-we all could use more. Any real artist that plays both believes in and is invested in the listener's abilities in particular and human potential generally. If that trust is a given to function the next step is that your insights are at least as valid and almost definitely less tainted than the average musician, who after all has his/her nose and ego all up in the mix. So your thoughts on Herbie or anything musical are as pure as the driven snow and as welcome as May.

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