Herbie Hancock

So today is the birthday of Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, the coolest cat in the universe and my favorite jazz musician.

herbie hancock

Call me Herbie!

Herbie was sought out by Miles Davis to take the piano spot in his second great quintet starting in 1963 when Hancock was only twenty-three. (But that’s nothing; Tony Williams the drummer was seventeen!) Along with bassist Ron Carter, this trio became what I believe was the finest rhythm section in all of jazz. Oh yeah, I said it.

davis second quintet

The quintet at play–herbie, miles, ron, wayne shorter on sax and tony

Even while recording and performing with Miles for the next decade or so, Herbie was already making records of his own as a bandleader and composer. Classically trained, Hancock’s style is melodic and persuasive. His compositions also frequently cross over into funk, soul and pop arenas as they are some of the most accessible of all jazz music–in a good way. He’s one of the prime movers of post-bop jazz, i.e., fusion. If awards are your thing, Herbie’s racked up more grammys than God. Or even Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. (Herbie’s fourteen is one more than Michael got.)

herbie and band

Herbie in the seventies with the Headhunters (I think)…

I just love Herbie’s creativity, his joy in music. For people who don’t think they can “get” jazz, I’m convinced he’s the guy to try. Like I said, accessible in a good way. Some day I will do my definitive Herbie Hancock post so look out for that.

T of V ecstatically wishes¬†Mr. Herbie Hancock a beautiful birthday. He’s turning seventy-four today, and still producing great albums year after year. If you don’t know his work, please listen to some today.

herbie hancock

Damn, that man’s got soul. Happy birthday!

Lou Reed

So Lou Reed is dead. While I haven’t blogged much about music on this site yet, it’s a big part of my life, and this news today has rocked me. It’s too early to tell for sure why Lou died, but he was 71 and had a pretty nice run for a dude who put his body through some bad, bad shit. Keith Richards somehow outlasts another one….

For a musician, Lou Reed was a great writer. He considered the records he made to be chapters in what he called his “Great American Novel”. His songs seem to me to be like reportage from the doorway to Hell. Lou made it possible for rock songs to take on real people and real situations. Let’s run through some of the topics he made music about: transvestism, murder, domestic abuse, drug abuse, S & M, violence, bingeing, insanity—what’s it all add up to? Great Fucking Art. You never felt like Lou was just a tourist down these dark alleys. He’d seen and done a lot of shit. His lyrics just tell you like it was, without judgement. Bring your own moral if you want to, Lou didn’t fuck with morals.

Musically, I have mixed feelings about Lou Reed. My very favorite types of music involve great composition and superior musicianship. Prog rock, jazz, fusion, etc. Lou, instead, brings a rawness to most of his stuff that I sometimes wish was a little more polished. But sometimes, we need the raw, the honest, the unpolished. It serves its own purpose. Lou considered rock to be truth, unvarnished. He didn’t waste too much time on making it pretty.

One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.

Lou didn’t do jazz. Lou did Lou. He was one of a kind.

Lou Reed