Unmistakable Herbie Hancock, Jazz and Joy

Herbie Hancock 2024 Fall Tour

Here’s something to think about: Herbie Hancock released his debut album, Takin’ Off, in 1963. That’s 60 years ago. And yet Herbie Hancock has recently been described as “jogging” off the stage at the close of one of his concerts. To be clear: that’s jogging AFTER having just delivered a highly energetic jazz performance, punctuated with insights gleaned from decades of thriving and evolving along with the American music scene, and comedic asides eliciting genuine laughs from the audience

Pretty impressive. Then again, it’s Herbie Hancock. Impressive has been the adjective most used to describe him since at least about age 7, when he began playing the piano. His onstage debut occurred a few years later, at age eleven, for a performance of a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

When he was twenty he began working with legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, followed a few short years later by being invited to join the Miles Davis Quintet. All the while, Hancock’s own solo career was taking off, and throughout the 1960s and 70s he released a slew of hit albums, began successfully composing film and television scores, and continued to find inspiration in collaborating with other renowned jazz musicians.

Rather then rest on his well-deserved laurels, though, he kicked off the 1980s by changing the music world forever.

At that time the music industry was dismissive of the brand-new hip-hop movement. Hancock recognized it as a distinct musical genre, and embraced it’s potential. His 1983 single Rockit was a runaway commercial success, proving that hip hop was a stand-alone musical category, and here to stay. Way ahead of its time, Rockit also foreshadowed hip hop’s ability to crossover, as the single was simultaneously an immediate hit in the breakdance community, topped both the Jazz and R&B Billboard charts, and walked away with a Grammy and a slew of inaugural MTV Music Awards.

Musical innovation, collaborating with musicians from across every musical genre on more than one continent, Oscars, Grammys, the critically acclaimed ‘Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project,’ becoming a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador…that heady list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many ways Herbie Hancock has spent the last three decades thriving professionally, personally, and spiritually.

We’re honored that a small part of his latest adventure will take place on the Wilson Center stage. And excited to witness what happens next.

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