Dearest readers, I have been a contributor to these pages for well over eight years now, and I've enjoyed a certain stylistic free range that is typically not allowed aesthetically or socially by journalistic moral standards. That said, in today's blog post, we'll be hailing Herbie Hancock's upcoming SunFest appearance through two isolated instances of my life.
If the sheriffs don't kill this puppy, we'll have us a good time.
Arguably one of the most charismatic faces in the history of jazz, Hancock has been on a trailblazing path since his tenure in Miles Davis' second Quintet incarnation (roughly 1964 to 1969) and continues to be an influence permeating over the soft tendrils of jazz with his funky takes on bebop, R&B, fusion, and electronic applications to classical jazz.
While in college in the '90s, my friend and poet Justin Petropoulos recommended I watch the filmed adaptation of Sam Greenlee's 1969 indictment on America during the civil rights movement, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, mainly because at the time, our conversations revolved heavily around kung fu films, the Highlander series, and blacksploitation cinema.
While we could go into details here about the political message of the novel/film and make comparisons within and independent of each, this here blog post does not deal with the film and/or book. No, this blog post deals with Herbie Hancock and his soundtrack for the film that is nothing short of phenomenal.
In the nascent days of Napster, this soundtrack was one of the first things I downloaded. While most people will point and say that his work on 1974's Death Wish might be a little more accessible, I'll go ahead and agree with that, but there is something deciduously revolutionary and in sync with the message of the work. There are enough nuances of pure jazz and subtle experimentation to keep both camps happy.
Most important, the music made me so happy. I ended up doing that deed we all do but never truly admit to, although in retrospect, I think I just created some digital evidence of wrongdoing. I'm sure my editors will post the bail.
The second time that Herbie Hancock entered violently into my life was at my friend Arun's house in Pinecrest sometime in the fall of 2003. We were getting rip-roaring drunk on Grand Old Parr, and there was this girl there who I initially assumed was one of his revolving door of relatives that had come and gone through the night, but as the wee hours crept upon us, it was becoming more and more evident that she might've shown up with a relative but was promptly abandoned to our care.
Sounds like the beginning of a horrible porno. It wasn't. Apparently, this woman was geeked out on some combo of acid and pills and started freaking out. The more we tried to calm her down, the more she would go on these bizarre tandems about God-knows-what, but the evening pretty much ended for me in a fit of laughter when she started screaming at the top of her lungs "HERBIE MOTHERFUCKING HANCOCK!" over and over and over until the neighbors called the cops (about a good ten minutes, way too long for that neighborhood) and I made myself scarce.
I don't know what became of that young lady or if she was ever able to fight through her hallucinogenic Herbie Hancock demons. Hey! That was around the time I started writing for this publication!
He might not try to instigate social reform or get high with you anymore, but Herbie Hancock is a living legend of American music, and every music lover should see him perform live at least once.
Here are a few of Hancock's signature tunes:
"The Spook Who Sat By the Door"
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