Music icon

Living music icon Herbie Hancock to perform at Kleinhans Music Hall

Thu 17 March 2022 16:20

Herbie Hancock, legendary pianist and composer, will perform Friday, June 17 at Kleinhans Music Hall for a one-night performance only. Tickets are on sale now, including VIP experiences, and can be purchased at For personalized service, call 716-885-5000.

A press release explains: “A true icon of modern music, 2013 Kennedy Center Laureate Herbie Hancock has transcended boundaries and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With a celebrated career spanning six decades and 14 Grammy Awards, he continues to amaze audiences around the world.

“This icon of acoustic and electronic jazz, funk, R&B and rock is a joy to see on stage. In performances, he seems to be having as much fun as his audience, losing himself in the music and the good vibes. To spend an evening with Mr. Hancock is to experience dynamic music at the hands of a virtuoso performer.

“Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he transcended boundaries 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 around the world.

Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11. He started 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 hit, yielding 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, Hancock appeared on Davis’ groundbreaking “In a Silent Way”.

Hancock’s own solo career flourished on Blue Note, with classic albums such as ‘Maiden Voyage’, ‘Empyrean Isles’ and ‘Speak Like a Child’. He composed the music for Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blow Up, which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.

After leaving Davis, Hancock formed a new band called The Headhunters, and in 1973 recorded “Head Hunters”. Along with the single “Chameleon”, the record became the first jazz album to go platinum. By mid-decade, Hancock was playing to stadium-sized crowds all over the world – and had no less than four albums on the pop charts at once. In total, he had 11 albums on the pop charts during the 1970s.

In 1980 Hancock introduced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world as a solo artist, producing his debut album and touring with him. In 1983, a new attraction for the alternative side led Hancock to a series of collaborations with Bill Laswell. The first, “Future Shock,” went platinum again, and the single “Rockit” rocked the dance and R&B charts, winning a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The video for 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 the music for 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 label, distributed by Verve, and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the recording and release of “Gershwin’s World”, which featured 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, linked 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 Headhunters on staff and became the first-ever artist-in-residence at the Tennessee-based Bonnaroo Festival.

In 2007 Hancock recorded and released “River: The Joni Letters”, a tribute to his longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell with Wayne Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and co-produced by Larry Klein. He enlisted singers Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen and Mitchell herself to perform songs she wrote or drew inspiration from. The album received rave reviews and was a top 10 year-end pick for many critics. It also won three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year; Hancock is one of the few jazz musicians to have ever received this honor.

Hancock also had a thriving career off the stage and in the recording studio. Recently appointed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair for Jazz, he currently also serves as President of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, a leading international organization dedicated to the development of jazz performance and education. in the whole world. Hancock is also one of the founders of the International Committee of Artists for Peace and received the highly esteemed “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” from French Prime Minister François Fillon.

In July 2011, Hancock was designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. Recognizing Hancock’s “dedication to promoting peace through dialogue, culture and the arts”, the Director-General asked the famous jazz musician “to contribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote mutual understanding between cultures , with particular emphasis on the emergence of new and creative ideas among young people, to find solutions to global problems, while guaranteeing equal access to the diversity of artistic expressions.

In December 2013, Hancock received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor, and in 2014 he was named 2014 Norton Professor Of Poetry at Harvard University, completing his lecture series, “The Ethics Of Jazz”, as part of the Charles Eliot. Norton Lecture Series for a period of six weeks. Her memoir, “Herbie Hancock: Possibilities,” was published by Viking in 2014, and in February 2016 Hancock received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Hancock is currently working in the studio on a new album.

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