A Fireside Chat with Herbie Hancock
HH: Deee-Lite, that's the group. I was told that somebody had sampled something from the Blow-Up soundtrack that I had done. I had never heard it. And then one day, my daughter and I were getting in my car and the radio was on and she said, "Dad, that's that song." She pointed it out because I didn't even remember the song. I had to go and get the record to remember.
AAJ: Would you revisit the Sextant band?
HH: There is this music called electronica and a lot of the young artists rediscovered Sextant. I didn't even know that was happening. Somebody had to point it out to me. I put a band together called Future 2 Future and we were in the electronica area. Sextant was a very raw sound and it grew out of the times. It was postavant- garde and the whole avant-garde area was a big underground thing happening in the '60s and had a lot of influence on the mainstream of jazz. For example, in the Miles Davis group I played in, I remember one concert that we played when I was with Miles and after the concert, Miles leaned over to Tony Williams and said, "I sounded like Don Cherry didn't I?" And he was pleased. Miles was pleased because he was checking it out too. So I haven't had to bring that band back as a reunion band. When I think of reunion bands, a lot of times, I think these are has beens trying to recreate something they did at a certain time and that time is not now.
AAJ: Of late, you have been on tour with Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove (Directions in Music), celebrating the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
HH: They were born the same year and so we were celebrating what would be their 75th birthdays. That was an idea that was generated by my concert agent. Miles has been a major innovator through several generations. That is kind of a no-brainer for people to realize that. For John Coltrane, during the time that he was with Miles and then particularly when he left Miles, he contributed a whole different kind of openness to the music and added a spiritual essence to the music scene. Not that Miles' music wasn't spiritual, but John's was in almost an hypnotic way. During the short time that he was around, because he wasn't around that long, he was a major contributor, especially to saxophone players. Michael Brecker, for example, credits John Coltrane for the reason that he plays saxophone. He wouldn't be a musician had it not been for John Coltrane's music.
AAJ: In June, you headline the Playboy Jazz Festival.
HH: That is a quartet with Wayne Shorter and Brian Blade and Dave Holland. We are looking forward to it.
AAJ: You are continuing your association with the Thelonious Monk Institute, of which you are a board member.
HH: Right, I am the Chairman now. The overall vision is the promotion of jazz and jazz education, and to grow a new audience for jazz, and also to work towards the continued evolution of the music. We have a lot of different programs going. One of them including jazz as a part of American history in elementary schools and middle schools because it should be. Any German knows who Beethoven is and Bach. Most of the people in Europe know who their great composers are without having to study music. They are included in the cultural aspect of the history their nations and we don't do that for jazz in nation and it really should be. We also have a performance area too. We have a college band selected from around the world. Every year, we put a band together and they are together for two years. Each year, the groups that we put together blow our minds in their growth and in their development. It is really amazing. The bands are so good they're scary.
AAJ: There is hope.
Visit Herbie Hancock on the web at www.herbiehancock.com .