Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1089

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Herbie Hancock @Sete Jazz Festival - South of France 12th July 2010

Herbie Hancock Jazz a Sete Jazz Festival - South of France 12/07/10
Herbie Hancock Jazz a Sete Jazz Festival - South of France 12/07/10

Picture this an ampitheatre in the south of france on the med on a hot balmy night and an open air concert from one of the great jazz legends of all time the one and only - Herbie Hancock. Talk about location!

Hancock was in a jovial mood and kicked off with some classic headhunters repertoire, that wah keyboard sounded magical - a man who is irrevocably tied to that sound just like his soulmate Stevie Wonder, who I'd witnessed with that same keyboard at this year's glasto. Funktastic fellas!

Lionel Loueke, on guitar, complimented perfectly with his funked up fusion style and the consummate pro too, Greg Phillanganes, (Toto/MJ) added his airy touches on keys with distinction and ease. Herbie surrounds himself with the best. The irascible Vinnie Colaiuta on top form with his trusty groovetastic drums and the stonking Tal Wilkenfeld on bass, still in her early 20's, looking like a pre raphaelite beauty that Rossetti would paint - this girl is already a top notch seasoned pro who owns the stage effortlessly. Her talent is frightning! Jeez! What was her ma feeding her as a baby?Mashed up Jaco Pastorious records no doubt.

However, tonight the master was in his element and clearly relishing his duals with his instrumentalists trading fours on his keyboard type guitar dazzling us with his virtuosity on the magical 'Watermelon Man'. It's hard to believe Hancock is now seventy because his energy and enthusiasm has diminished little.

Lennon's 'Imagine' from his new album 'The Imagine Project' was given a harmonic going over which featured a ballsy female lead vocalist, thumb piano and african chanting all at once sounded a bit of a global jumble but when Hancock's piano solo came in the true gift of Herbie's Jazz jeu d'esprit was upon us. Hancock's knack at taking what is essentially a pop tune and converting it into something with musical depth is without doubt the man's forte.

Applying the same rules to the Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel tune 'Don't Give Up' kept the unity of what his new album is all about. Peace through global musical collaboration. John Legend, Seal,Pink, Corinne Bailey Rae and a whole host of others adorn this project which has gained widespread critical acclaim once again for el maestro.

The civil rights got named checked too and Greg Phillanganes sang Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come' with suitable applomb, and Tal wilkenfeld poured her soulful little heart out when she sang Dylan's 'The Times Are A Changing' - still as powerful and relevant today.

Moving out of world fusion and back to the funk kept this particular hack happy a superlative work out that quoted Marley's 'Exodus' chant kept the serious jazz funkers sweet. Herbie can switch easily between genres without being portentious and his most poignant moment came on solo grand piano. The sweetest, evocative flurries wafted over the med like sky lanterns at dusk. The plaintive beauty this master can muster is magical. It's only a shame the spell was broken when the disco next door kicked in right at the quietest moment!

This was my first visit to Sete Jazz Festival and it's an impressive place to be. George Benson, Melody Gardot and the Brand New Heavies were on the following evenings but I was winging my way back to the UK by then, more's the pity, zoot alors!

To round of the evening at the theatre de la mer, Hancock burst into 'Chameleon' complete with thunderous bass, crisp drums and funk synths. This perennial fusion classic was the perfect ending to this beautiful french affair. Je t'adore Le Funk and it's good to what great shape the jazz godfather is in, vivre la Herbie!
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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