True jazz enthusiasts are often purist by nature. So most of them tend to entertain remakes and tribute documents with a certain amount of trepidation. But enthusiasts and purists alike need not be concerned about the Hancock/Brecker/Hargrove document, Directions in Music: Celebrating Miles Davis and John Coltrane ' Live at Massey Hall.
From the downbeat of the opening tune, "The Sorcerer," Herbie Hancock reminds us why he was and is one of the most sought after pianist in the genre. His deftness, technique and mastery of the instrument and the music holds this group together with the same quality that earned him attention while a sideman for Miles Davis in the '60s. He masterfully connects together this group's form, and its opening sets the tone for the whole recording.
Whereas some don't consider Michael Brecker to be at the forefront of the classic jazz idiom, his presence on this record is no aberration. He definitely shines in a solo rendition of Coltrane's "Naima." He proves, that his study of the master tenor man's style has influenced his greatly. His own contribution to the project entitled, "D-Train," is a fifteen-minute epilogue. It meanders through different time signatures while holding steady to its defining rhythm. Herbie Hancock does some of his best work on the recording in the improv section.
The young lion in the project is Roy Hargrove. The ever-emerging Grammy award-winning trumpeter continues the line of great players that spun the likes of Miles Davis. From is his first solo on "The Sorcerer," where he begins his playing away from the microphone and hits you with an unyielding fury of notes and sound, he entrances the listener. Hargrove's compositional contribution, "The Poet," is an obvious attempt, and by his own admission, to make use of space in the music which happens to be a Miles Davis trademark. And like Davis, he seems to be searching for something in the music. His playing exemplifies his growth both as composer and soloist.
This record also works very well as a live recording. The instant audience feedback lends energy to shaping the music. This is where Herbie Hancock's genius is most apparent in holding together the music. Drummer Brian Blades and bassist John Patitucci round out the rhythm section and fit in quite nicely. This ensemble did an excellent job of remembering, taking their influences and making the music their own.
Directions in Music is certainly moving the music in the right direction.
Track Listing: The Sorcerer; The Poet; So What/Impressions; Misstery; Naima; Transition; My Ship; D Trane.
Personnel: Herbie Hancock: piano; Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone; Roy Hargrove: trumpet, flugelhorn (2, 7); John Patitucci: bass; Brian Blades: drums.
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