Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Herbie Hancock- Bouquet

Dried up.

A handful of people have expressed disappointment that I'm not jubilant about Herbie Hancock's big win at the Grammys. They're overlooking two things.

Sure, I'm a jazz geek. It's true that I'm responsible for Plastic Sax, a regularly updated site devoted to Kansas City jazz. But I love Hank Williams no less than Count Basie, and I'm just as passionate about "Mother Popcorn" as I am about "Yardbird Suite." Graduation was my favorite album of 2007; I also like Amy Winehouse, Vince Gill and the Foo Fighters. I'm unable to treat Hancock's award as anything other than a nice surprise.

Secondly, we're talking about the Grammys. The institution isn't exactly a trendsetter. "It's been 43 years since the first and only time that a jazz artist got an album of the year award," Hancock claimed.

I didn't believe this assertion, so I investigated it here. Sure enough, if you don't count Frank Sinatra, Blood Sweat & Tears, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Steely Dan, Norah Jones or Ray Charles as jazz, Hancock is correct. 1964's Getz/Gilberto, another crossover album made with the pop audience in mind, is the only other jazz-oriented "album of the year" recipient.

All that said, I have the highest regard for Herbie Hancock. He's one of only a handful of artists who didn't just change with the times- he was agent of change. Here's a selective summary of Hancock's career:

*a sideman for Miles in 1963
*a brilliant bandleader in 1964
*a funkateer with the Headhunters in 1974
*a supreme disco king in 1979
*a scratchy hitmaker in 1983
*an aggressive all-star jazzman in 1997
*a Grammy-pleaser in 2007

Maiden Voyage is one of the first jazz albums that blew my mind. Since I know that you'll buy it today if you don't already own it (it's on sale for $7.97), I'll feature something else. Hancock plays pretty on this gorgeous Bobby Hutcherson vehicle from the out-of-print Town Hall Concert from 1985.

Freddie Bell died February 10. He was 76.

Kansas City Click: It's Over and The Autumn Film are at the Record Bar.

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