The Jazzcat

Directions in Music at the Cerritos Center: Our Times with Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove and Micheal Breaker at the Cerritos Center

by on Feb.13, 2005, under News

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Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove represent three generations of excellence in jazz music. These cats walk on stage and the audience at the Cerritos Center start roaring! I keep expecting to see Roy with a full set of dreds but he chopped them off a while ago for the clean cut of his earlier days. This concert is entitled “Directions in Music” for a reason. You may think that you know where these cats are going to take the music but, believe me, you have no clue.

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Next to Herbie’s piano and keyboard was a lap top computer in which he proceeded to open up the show with a side of the music that came from another world. A UFO was definitely landing, but this time, it was an Ultimate Futuristic Opportunity to stretch the music to its elastic maximum. Brecker had an electronic instrument that he would later explain to be a EWI (Electric Wind Instrument) which played a wide array of sounds from Oboes to eastern sounding flutes, to piano chords to old Indian chants to choirs singing to wah wah guitar sounds layering textures and looping each sound to form a newly created composition. Roy was standing there with his trumpet, watching Herbie as he worked his mystical, magical, cacophonic synthesis and the three were ready to get down. Turn your straight ahead ears on low and change the frequency to wide open, sit back and let message be conveyed.

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The sound on the stage is wired perfectly. Teri Lynn Carrington was playing the phattest of notes on the bass drums and you could hear them with such clarity. She is sitting in for Brian Blade tonight and her sensuous touch can only come from the hard hitting compassion of a woman. Scott Colley is on bass and he bows the richest sound. The music is very directional and everyone is left with enough space were their voices could be heard with clarity and distinction. When Roy finishes a solo, he rolls out, off to the side of the stage to give way to his fellow musicians the spotlight. He belted of a couple of Freddie quotes before he handed the jazz baton off to Brecker.

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Jazz is limitless and tonight the cats are not hanging around the epicenter but, are exploring the galaxies, coming across many bright and shinning stars on their travels. It is almost like they came from another planet, roaming the earth as musical pied pipers in search of intelligent life. From the reaction they got from the audience, they found some here is Cerritos.

 

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Michael is going off on his tenor with squeaks, squawks, squeals and staccato melodic technical passion. Herbie changes direction and we listen to his sustaining statements like a James Earl Jones narrator speaking words from the Almighty! Calm, patient and powerful, he paints the colors of the dawn of a new day. Herbie and Teri Lynn communicate so well together and Colley just lays right back in the pocket. Scott’s solo leads the rhythm section down a road to the thick, rich and full creative sauce of the music!

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These are not songs; they are sonnets, pieces of music that take you on an unrecognizable journey. If you close your eyes and go through the mental musical forest, the clues that are left will guide you to a better place. They did some real magic with Roy Hargrove’s “Poet”. It was like sourdough bread with butter and Danish honey, damn good! On a piece called, “Loose Threads” Brecker’s tenor sounds phatter that the phattest Jlo booty. I know that you can get behind that! Herbie worked in some very interesting effects behind Roy’s solo and was just a monster when it was time for him to burn at the piano. This piano was not a Steinway, it was a —— and Herbie really expressed his enthusiasm for its pristine sound. Scott Colley was spitting notes like bullets and Teri Lynn was Neo in the odd meter madness!

 

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Herbie and Michael were not the only ones with electric creations. Roy stepped up to one of the microphones that was rigged with a certain electric effect that funked up his sound. They took one of Roy’s old tunes, deconstructed and reconstructed another version vacillating between a straight ahead and hip hop sound. Musical jazz electric rap! Can you RH Factor that!

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All in all it was a dynamic night of music. Unfortunately, I had to roll out before encore but, the music was totally intriguing when you allow yourself to experience other pleasures in jazz. Far from 4\4, but still well within the realms of the music!

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LeRoy Downs


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