Sunday, September 12, 2010

2001 Monterey Jazz Festival - Herbie Hancock, New Directions

In 2001, both Miles Davis and John Coltrane would have celebrated their 75th birthday. With that in mind, Herbie Hancock went on tour with a quintet modeled after his V.S.O.P. bands of the '70s and '80s and the Tribute to Miles band of the '90s, which in turn were modeled after the 1965-1968 Miles Davis Quintet. That band consisted of Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade.

The simple path would have been to simply play a montage of the famous standards produced by those two giants. Hancock doesn't do simple. Herbie is about innovating and creating. With this collection of artists, not even new arrangements would do. Completely updated versions were called for. In what was only the second live performance by this band what the opening night audience experienced was one of those truly unforgettable "Monterey Moments". The haunting tempo of "Impressions" overlayed with the modal chord progression of "So What' was a stunning example of one of those dramatic reconstructions. Brecker's solo version of Coltrane's classic "Naima" is still the talk of the festival faithful.

This performance alone was the high point that year for many in attendance. To quote one 25+ year festival veteran, "I feel privileged just to have been here".

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