Herbie Hancock at The Klein, Bridgeport, CT

Herbie Hancock, keyboards

Lionel Loueke, guitar (myriad of sounds)

Chris Potter, saxophone

Dave Holland, bass

Vinnie Colaiuta, drums

Sonya Kitchell, vocals

Amy Keys, vocals

How incredible to witness Herbie Hancock right in my own backyard. The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, CT was the perfect backdrop for Herbie Hancock’s jazz ensemble. I complement The Fairfield Theater Company as they continuously bring quality artists to The Klein and Stage One in Fairfield, CT.

Herbie Hancock put us at ease from the start. He made The Klein his living room as he is a very inviting soul. I gained a deeper appreciation for Herbie Hancock’s Buddhism because he treats you as such an equal. He is very Zen, both a humble and spiritual person. He has an incredible warmth that is endearing to share.

The show began with a Headhunters song, Actual Proof which set the tempo for the evening. It is a smooth journey number that slowly envelops the listener.

The heart of the show was based around Herbie Hancock’s last two best selling recordings, River: The Joni Letters and Possibilities. Both of these recordings are in constant rotation on my CD player. I was eager to hear pieces done live, led by the maestro himself.

Herbie Hancock, introduced the two female vocalists for the event, Sonya Kitchell and Amy Keys. They performed the title track River by Joni Mitchell admirably. As Herbie pointed out “these ladies can sing, they aren’t just wallpaper.” I especially liked their rendition of the U2/B.B. King classic, When Love Comes To Town, it rocked. The highlight song for me with the vocalists was Leon Russell’s A Song for You sung powerfully by Amy Keys.

The ensemble of musicians that Herbie Hancock assembled for this tour was stunning. I was very pleased to finally witness world class bassist Dave Holland live. Herbie Hancock and Dave Holland have deep roots with Miles Davis’s electric period with their point of integration being the seminal,  In A Silent Way

Also on hand was Vinnie Colaiuta one of the foremost in demand session drummers. I have long enjoyed Vinnie’s appearances with Jeff Beck, Joni Mitchell and Frank Zappa to name a few of his contributions. His drum set said “I Hit Things”. Believe me he really does so with syncopation, incredible timing and fervency.

The next player I had been longing to see play was Lionel Loueke. He is a very talented guitarist who can create a myriad of sounds. He is also a great composer. Herbie Hancock showcased an instrumental Lionel had written called Seventeens which was based upon the odd but conquerable 17 beat pattern. All the musicians in the ensemble loved this selection as it offered them the unique challenge to stay in time together. Lionel Loueke also performed a solo effort that gave us a deeper interpretation of his Benin, West Africa roots. You will be hearing more about Lionel Loueke in the future as the new genius of jazz/world music/avant-garde that I just know you will whole heartedly embrace.

What really worked fluidly is that Dave Holland, Vinnie Colaiuta and Lionel Loueke all participated on the Grammy winning recording River: The Joni Letters. This fact added so much credibility to the performance.

I don’t want to overlook the very adept saxophone playing of Chris Potter. I found his horn playing top notch. He fit in so perfectly with the ensemble. He was captivatingly energetic on stage when he soloed or added his sax to the mix.

The two and one half hour concert culminated in the encore of Head Hunters Chameleon. Herbie Hancock strapped on a Roland AX-7 keytar and went to town jamming with all on stage. It was the perfect ending to a fulfilling night of jazz.

To better appreciate a visual sense of Herbie Hancock live visit  Yahoo Music Nissan Live Website where you can see the web cast of the Herbie Hancock ensemble from April 2008. Its a great music site. Nissan Live is an intimate setting of 300 persons. The artists allow a question and answer section, which gives you valuable insight into Herbie Hancock as a human being.  The real standout of the Herbie Hancock Nissan Live sessions is that Joni Mitchell joins Herbie and company for three songs, River, Tea Leaf Prophecy (both from River: The Joni Letters) and Hana (from Joni’s Shine recording).

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