Herbie Hancock was performing classical music at 11. That his work has fanned out and reached out to the point where, at 68, he won this year's Best Album Grammy is proof that it's possible to speak to everyone if you're open. If one word could ever describe Herbie, it's open.
Musically, he still has a childlike nature, pursuing things in the spirit of play that we're all in this for. (For a while there, he was really into dotted 16th notes and minor ninths.) He's open as to whom he plays with; he doesn't feel intimidated by big names or worry that someone in the band can't quite cut it. And he's constant. He hasn't burned any bridges.
Herbie's openness makes him fearless. He plays the piano as if it's an orchestra, never saying "I can't do this" or "I won't do that." For him, the piano is a palette. And he doesn't really have a need to be understood. So when jazz pianists objected to his moving toward pop, he deflected them easily because he's just so warm. Whenever we get together with Herbie, it's always off the cuff. And something always develops: Herbie is an enthusiast, loves a great conversation and has a lot of endurance. The guy can hang.
Musical legends Mitchell and Shorter have each collaborated with Hancock
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