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Herbie Hancock: (New) Directions Included

By Published: March 13, 2004
AAJ: Does that factor into what kind of music you want to play at any time, acoustic, electric? Is it from reading and the things that you pick up? Does that then effect what you feel?

HH: Not so much that. It's more just an inner urge. I'm placing less barriers between the two. On this tour (Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Gary Thomas on sax, Scott Colley on bass) that I'm doing now, we're not promoting a record. It's kind of unusual because I'm usually promoting some kind of project. It's kind of end-of-the-year concerts that are coming up. This is not a recurring group that I'm going to be working necessarily a lot with in the future. We'll see what happens beyond this tour.

But there isn't a particular concept, like Directions in Music had a concept. We've done three concerts already. At each concert I had one synthesizer there that I didn't even use in every concert. It's there, in case I just want to add a little something, a musical pad or something somewhere; a sound somewhere that I think might be appropriate to bring in and bring out, and not be any real focus.

So I'm opening up myself to a lot of possibilities. I'm going to bring some kind of synthesizer and just have it sit on top of the piano in case I do need it. In case I feel that it's appropriate.

AAJ: Your association with Miles, how does that play into your musical life. Has it been a blessing? Sometimes a burden, when so many people want to ask you about it?

HH: Not so much a burden. It's certainly been a blessing. Miles I consider my last real musical mentor. A lot of lessons I learned from Miles musically, I've found — because I've been practicing Buddhism for the last 30 years — I'm recognizing how those lessons are so important in the application in daily life. Things like creating in the moment, being in the moment, trusting your instincts, not being afraid to go outside the comfort zone.

AAJ: Those great people that you played with back then — Ron Carter, Wayne, Tony Williams, it has to be satisfying.

HH: All of us either learned, or had those concepts and others, encouraged by Miles and by all the members of that group. We learned from each other and Miles learned from us too.

AAJ: You live in LA now, you prefer it to New York?

HH: I lived I New York for 11 years. I've been here for 30 years now.

AAJ: Musically, you don't feel like you're missing anything in New York, it's still the center of things. A: I don't need to live in New York to continue and move in a direction I want to move in.

AAJ: Do you still tinker with movie music at all?

HH: I haven't done a score in a while. I've been asked to participate on a couple of occasions. Little short things. In the movie "Traffic" there's one scene where there's something of my piano in it; something they wanted improvised. They came over to my studio and we did it right here. Every once in while there's something that comes along.

There's a movie where I'm actually music coordinator for, coming out called "Hitters." Kind of a mafia style movie coming out. Eva King is doing the music and I'm kind of helping with some of the decision making for this movie. A dear friend of mine is producer and primary actor in it. He put the thing together. A low budget thing, but a feature-length film. So I've got my hand dabbling in it. I haven't done a score in a while.

There are some other things I'm looking for in the future. I'm getting ready to put together something, to open up a new avenue for myself, having to do with a symphony orchestra.

AAJ: Will it be jazz-influenced, more symphonic, or "legit?"

HH: I don't think it will be so legit, because I'm not that interested in doing that. I like combinations of things. I think the first time we go out, it will kind of be an offshoot of a record I did called Gershwin's World. Using that as a framework to work in, to get my foot in the door, then I can move toward a lot of different combinations of things.

AAJ: So still moving, still changing.

HH: Oh yeah. If I'm not doing that, then I'd be bored I'm definitely excited about new ways of looking at things.

AAJ: Who's out there making music you enjoy now.

HH: Wayne Shorter. From what I can see, he's doing the most provocative and interesting things.

AAJ: Any of the younger guys, like Wallace Roney or...?

HH: Wallace Roney is a great player. Terri Lyne Carrington is great. She's bringing out some of her music. Gonzalo Rubalcaba. He's not new, but his approach to music has evolved. He's calming down a lot. Taking his time with things. Creating a whole new approach to the piano that doesn't depend on pyrotechnics. More of a balance in the musical approach.

New names? I don't really concentrate on just listening to jazz players. And I don't concentrate on just listening to music either. So I'm not familiar with all the new names. A lot of times, other people turn me on to new people that are doing stuff, so I don't consider myself a spokesman for everything that's going on in jazz.

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