Herbie Hancock, the legendary pianist and composer, will perform Friday, June 17, at Kleinhans Music Hall for a one-night-only performance. Tickets are on sale now, including VIP experiences, and can be purchased at https://kleinhansbuffalo.org/event/herbie-hancock/. For personalized service, call 716-885-5000.
A press release explained, “A true icon of modern music, 2013 Kennedy Center honoree Herbie Hancock has transcended limitations and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With a celebrated career spanning six decades and 14 Grammy Awards, he continues to amaze audiences across the globe.
“This icon of acoustic and electronic jazz, funk, R&B and rock is a joy to watch on stage. In performances, he seems to have as much fun as his audiences, getting lost in the music and good vibes. To spend an evening with Mr. Hancock is to experience dynamic music-making at the hands of a virtuosic performer.
“Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With an illustrious career spanning five decades and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for “River: The Joni Letters,” he continues to amaze audiences across the globe.”
Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science, and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.
In 1960, trumpeter Donald Byrd discovered Hancock. After two years of session work with Byrd, as well as Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed with Blue Note as a solo artist. His 1963 debut album, “Takin' Off,” was an immediate success, producing the hit "Watermelon Man."
In 1963, Miles Davis invited Hancock to join the Miles Davis Quintet. During his five years with Davis, Herbie and his colleagues Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums) recorded many classics, including “ESP,” “Nefertiti” and “Sorcerer.” Later on, Hancock appeared on Davis' groundbreaking “In a Silent Way.”
Hancock’s own solo career blossomed on Blue Note, with classic albums including “Maiden Voyage,” “Empyrean Isles” and “Speak Like a Child.” He composed the score to Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film “Blow Up,” which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.
After leaving Davis, Hancock put together a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded “Head Hunters.” With crossover hit single "Chameleon," the record became the first jazz album to go Platinum. By mid-decade, Hancock was playing for stadium-sized crowds all over the world – and had no fewer than four albums in the pop charts at once. In total, he has had 11 albums in the pop charts during the 1970s.
In 1980, Hancock introduced the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world as a solo artist, producing his debut album and touring with him. In 1983, a new pull to the alternative side led Hancock to a series of collaborations with Bill Laswell. The first, “Future Shock,” again struck Platinum, and the single "Rockit" rocked the dance and R&B charts, winning a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The video of the track won five MTV awards. “Sound System,” the follow-up, also received a Grammy in the R&B instrumental category.
Hancock won an Oscar in 1986 for scoring the film "'Round Midnight," in which he also appeared as an actor. Numerous television appearances over the years led to two hosting assignments in the 1980s: "Rock School" on PBS and Showtime's "Coast To Coast."
The legendary Headhunters reunited in 1998, recording an album for Hancock’s own Verve-distributed imprint, and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the recording and release of “Gershwin's World,” which included collaborators Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea. “Gershwin's World” won three Grammys in 1999, including Best Traditional Jazz Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance for Stevie Wonder's "St. Louis Blues."
“Possibilities,” released in August 2005, teamed Hancock with many popular artists, such as Sting, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone and Damien Rice. That year, Hancock played a number of concert dates with a restaffed Headhunters, and became the first-ever artist-in-residence at the Tennessee-based festival Bonnaroo.
In 2007, Hancock recorded and released “River: The Joni Letters,” a tribute to longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell featuring Wayne Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and co-produced by Larry Klein. He enlisted vocalists Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen and Mitchell herself to perform songs she wrote or was inspired by. The album received glowing reviews and was a year-end Top 10 choice for many critics. It also garnered three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year; Hancock is one of only a handful of jazz musicians ever to receive that honor.
Hancock also maintains a thriving career outside the performing stage and recording studio. Recently named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as creative chair for jazz, he currently also serves as institute chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, a foremost international organization devoted to the development of jazz performance and education worldwide. Hancock is also a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was awarded the much esteemed "Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres" by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.
In July of 2011, Hancock was designated a UNESCO goodwill ambassador by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Recognizing Hancock's "dedication to the promotion of peace through dialogue, culture and the arts," the director-general has asked the celebrated jazz musician "to contribute to UNESCO's efforts to promote mutual understanding among cultures, with a particular emphasis on fostering the emergence of new and creative ideas amongst youth, to find solutions to global problems, as well as ensuring equal access to the diversity of artistic expressions."
In December of 2013, Hancock was the recipient of a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor, and in 2014 he was named the 2014 Norton Professor Of Poetry at Harvard University, completing his lectures series, "The Ethics Of Jazz," as part of the Charles Eliot Norton Lecture Series for a period of six weeks. His memoir, “Herbie Hancock: Possibilities,” was published by Viking in 2014, and in February 2016 Hancock was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. A member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Hancock is currently in the studio at work on a new album.
For more information, visit www.kleinhansbuffalo.org.