The evening started with Herbie introducing the group, commenting on his early association with multi-instrumentalist DeJohnette in their native Chicago. He then introduced their first selection of the evening, I Love You. Dave Holland shined on this Cole Porter classic. Hancock then put down a masterful version of one of his classic compositions, Cantaloupe Island, a crowd-pleasing infectious tune that makes you want to move your feet. He followed up with a song that he has changed (in name and substance) many times over the course of his career. He played the original version, Sol Real, which has the most intriguing mix of both classical and Latin influences. It was notable for both its uniqueness and the deep impression it left upon the listener. This performance piece exemplifies Hancock’s stature as an innovator and legend.
Another wonderful composition followed, written by Dave Holland specifically for this trio, entitled Pathways. Herbie got things started, laying the groundwork for a song that seemed to open itself up to a wide array of experimental possibilities. After a creative, well-crafted bass solo, Holland stepped out and let Jack DeJohnette take over the spotlight. Over the years, I have come to appreciate Jack’s drumming more and more. He keeps the listener engaged at all times, providing stimulating works of art throughout the evening, and exclamation points when he solos. When he began to rumble during this particular number, the crowd was poised to rise to their feet.
The group ended with the Stevie Wonder composition, You Got It Bad, Girl before being called out for the encore. A wonderful vehicle for jazz improvisation, the trio really enjoyed playing this one, working it inside and out. Never having seen Herbie Hancock before, I certainly had high expectations, particularly considering the trio he was bringing. I have seen Holland and DeJohnette both on a number of occasions, including their wonderful group with John Abercrombie, Gateway. Overall, the show was musically and spiritually satisfying. Herbie’s particular form of genius has an interesting twist. His playing is complex and, at times, introspective, which requires a good degree of concentration from the listener. In less skilled hands, these traits can cause the music to be inaccessible. Not in his hands, though. That is the genius of Herbie Hancock. Judging by the reaction of crowd, it was loved by those in attendance.