Herbie Hancock Talking Possibilities

Here I am, reading a bit from the beginning of Herbie Hancock’s new book, “Possibilities,” (Viking) written with Lisa Dickey, at the start of our public conversation last night at Barnes & Noble on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The upstairs room, less than a dozen blocks from the apartment Hancock live in decades ago, was overflowing. When the time came to field questions from the audience and Hancock waded into the seats, microphone in hand, the staffers looked concerned: But Herbie was just doing what he does—engaging people, and improvising.
I began our talk by reading a bit from his book set in the mid-1960s, when Hancock was a young musician in Miles Davis second great quintet, playing alongside Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams.

“Miles starts playing, building up a solo, and just as he’s about to really let loose, he takes a breath. And right then I play a chord that is just so wrong. I don’t even know where it came from—it’s the wrong chord, in the wrong place, and now it’s hanging out there like a piece of rotten fruit….” Continue reading “Herbie Hancock Talking Possibilities”

Jazz Pianism Takes Hold at Harvard

Pianists Herbie Hancock (l.) and Vijay Iyer

If you’re walking around the campus of Harvard University in the coming months, you might bump into Herbie Hancock, a pianist whose harmonic and stylistic innovations are essential to any full understanding of modern jazz. Or you might pass by Vijay Iyer, who is among the bright and bold generations of pianists to absorb Hancock’s legacy along with those of other pianists—in Iyer’s case, prominently including Randy Weston, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill—before crafting individualized pianistic languages rooted in yet not defined by jazz.
You might well find Hancock and Iyer together.
Their paths will intersect at the university as each exerts a powerful influence on how music is made, heard and considered there, as well as how culture in general is construed, beginning this Spring semester.
Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor Of Poetry at Harvard. Iyer will serve as the university’s inaugural Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts. Continue reading “Jazz Pianism Takes Hold at Harvard”