Painted like the perfect picture on stage, beautifully lit in hues of rich purples and periwinkle blues, an extraordinary quartet that is so very comfortable together. Our superstars of jazz, each having played with each other in many different configurations come together and grace us with their synergy of solitude; Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, Harvey Mason and Dianne Reeves.
The vibrations of Dianne’s tones are so at peace in a room that should be so daunting. Herbie, Christian and Harvey radiate as one. Individually each has such a special sound and delivery but tonight, there is a seamless and effortless sonic consistency that creates a new level in the mastery of understanding, clarity, hearing and togetherness.
It has been a decade since the rise of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Frank Geary along with the Disney family have done such a marvelous job creating the perfect environment for presentation at its best! Herbie on a moments notice decides that the band will perform Disney’s classic “When You wish Upon a Star”. The mystic version with Herbie on piano and synth, mixing the magic as Harvey and Christian shell game the sound into recognition is a fantastic way not only to keep the minds sharp but, to create new musical pathways to our nostalgic desires.
Literally situated at the epicenter of sound surrounded by a full house, the trio construction of the most solid, creative jazz phrases, displaying true individuality, come together so brilliantly as they paint Picassos of Herbie Hancock classics. Taking the extremely familiar and creating an abstract collage of magnificence is a breathe of fresh air. This shows much respect in that the musicians play for the audience and not to an audience.
These are our modern day masters and it would be so easy for them to play what they know. For the last several years, Herbie, Dianne and Christian have each served as the Artistic Creative Chair for the LAPhil; designing and creating the programming for each of the jazz series’ at the bowl. This has been another way for them to share their ideas of the music that they like and consider to be the most promising with the vast amount of patrons and subscribers at the bowl.
He jokes and says maybe the tune should have been called “Los Angeles” but, Herbie collaborated on a song with his sister Jean and they wrote a composition called “Manhattan”, with the lyrics depicting the delights if a magic city! Herbie and Dianne performed the song as a duo, taking the powerful dynamics of the Disney and turning us all into an intimate salon of friends.
“The Island of Fantasy” brings Christian and Harvey back to the stage.
Everyone here tonight, obviously magnificent in their own right are truly enjoying each other’s company and talents. The smiles depict their many years of friendship and probably wondering why they don’t do this more often.
In another duo setting Dianne and Christian play with each other and us as the get the audience to snap to Sinatra’s “One for my Baby”. Yes, Dianne did win a Grammy for this one but, tonight had the fun and funky embellishments.
I love how the trio just dives in deep deconstruction as they dissect more classic Hancock compositions so brilliantly! This is music served with a fork, knife and silk napkins, no spoons, a five star medley extravaganza!
After two standing ovations and an encore, there was a question and answer session. This is something that is generally not done with the Jazz Series but since we had not only phenomenal talent but also, former Artistic Chairs in the house, Laura Connelly, Director of Presentations decided it would be a good opportunity to ask a few questions and let the audience do the same.
Dianne formerly of Blue Note Records and now on Concord reminisces on her first self titled album on Blue Note produced by her cousin George Duke and featured players like Freddie Hubbard with tony William, Stanley Clark, Herbie Hancock of course and her good friend and ours Billy Childs. “Harvest Time” was one of her favorites from that recording. Dianne was actually the first to sing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She also has a new recording called, “Beautiful Life” which was a record of collaboration produced by Grammy winning Terri Lyne Carrington, first woman to win in the “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” with “Money Jungle”.
Herbie is teaching six lectures on the ethics of jazz in Boston. It is open to the public and he spent six months creating the curriculum at Harvard. Don Edmonson, who is one of the most avid supporters of live jazz music here Los Angeles attended one of Herbies lectures here in Los Angeles earlier in the day. He asked Herbie why he decided to speak upon racism in the music. Initially you might think this may have been a challenging question but, not at all. Herbie paused and reflected as his passion for humanity, dignity and oneness expressed that we are all one and that there is no room for this type of color distinction when it comes to music. “It is unethical not to respect your fellow man”. There have been many lessons learned but, it still continues and we have to eradicate it.
We also know Herbie to be one of the musicians who loves to be in and on the cutting edge of technology. His latest endeavor is with new technology called “Leap Motion” which lets you control your computer without touching it; like the movie “Minority Report”. Can you imagine what Herbie will do with that! He encourages people to get out of the comfort zone in music and in life!
Christian has a Hollywood Bowl performance coming up in the near future. You might remember a few years back when Christian had a chance to perform in a Big Band setting with one of his heroes of music, James Brown. This year he will be celebrating once again with the music of James Brown. When asked why he loves James Brown so much he replies, “You can’t hear James and not move”.
They each talk about The Great American Song, how the standards never get old and how they love to re-clothe them and make them new!