the word contemporary

By Chris J. Walker

Unquestionably, Quincy Jones is the most successful and most popular record producer on the planet, while also being a consummate arranger, composer, and band leader. Additionally, he’s a talented trumpeter and songwriter, along with being a trailblazing film/TV producer, publisher, mentor, social/political activist, and philanthropist. That’s an incredible amount of ground to cover—but Jones who is in the very select EGOT club (Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony)—has done all it and more. In recognition of all his great accomplishments and contributions to the arts and humanity, the Hollywood Bowl celebrated Jones’ ‘90th Birthday, which was on March 14th.

Music and Concert Review: QUINCY JONES' 90TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: A MUSICAL  CELEBRATION (Hollywood Bowl) - Stage and Cinema

One thing the Bowl knows how to do well is throw a party and six years ago it grandly spotlighted Quincy Jones: The A&M Years. The focus then was not on his age, but rather his emerging solo career over 35 years ago with top-selling crossover albums Walking in Space (1969), Gula Matari (1970) and Smackwater Jack (1971). They were on the vanguard of the then highly regarded producer/composer/arranger receiving wider recognition, and afterwards immersing himself in much bigger and higher profile projects.

For the 90th Birthday concert, Jones’ career in its totality was illuminated, with a non-stop cavalcade of performers and selections all connected to him. Providing the foundation, ranging from sumptuous to funky was the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Brit and Jones devotee, Jules Buckley. He first led the renowned Metropole Orkest in 2016 for a Jones tribute at the BBC Proms in London and has continued in ensuing years at select European and U.S. cities.

Getting the party underway was Jones’ cool and quirky 1962 romp “Soul Bossa Nova,” popularized in several films, including Austin Powers, featuring his protégé Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez. New sensation, Grammy-winning Samara Joy got screams from the audience before delving into Oscar Peterson’s soothing ballad “Misty” that gained broader acclaim when recorded by Sarah Vaughan with Jones’ arrangement in 1958.

Aloe Blacc suavely represented Sinatra for Fly Me to the Moon, recorded in 1964 with the Count Basie Orchestra and Jones. His goddaughter Patti Austin displayed her own versatility, first belting out emotive and insightful ballad “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” dedicated to James Ingram, who she recorded it with. She followed it with Jones’ R&B grooving 1981 “Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me” with Stevie Wonder playing keyboards. Without Austin, Wonder continued singing, scatting, and playing harmonica for his contemporary jazz styled You Got it Bad Girl the title track of Jones 1973 album to set the audience off.

The first half of the program could have easily ended there and continued with John Legend on piano singing Ingram’s ballad “Just Once” that’s on Jones’ 1981 album The Dude. “You Put a Move On My Heart” was fervidly sung by Sheléa from Jones’ 1999 CD From Q With Love and wowed the audience. Somewhat in the vein of contemporary/smooth jazz was the Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp” showcasing the background singers who had powerfully supported all the main vocalists.

Ibrahim Maalouf Gives His Trumpet a Human Voice - The New York Times

Trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf broke out of the vocal mode and did a thematic and lush instrumental version of “She’s Out of My Life” from Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall record, produced by Jones. The song was also a prelude to the second half of the program. With the backup singers in the limelight, it solely focused on Jackson’s mega pop hits, such as “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “The Man in The Mirror,” when Jones became better known as Q.  

Standing out from the big songs was “Human Nature” with multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, also a Jones protégé, singing and his mother Suzie conducting the orchestra. “Let The Good Times Roll” from Ray Charles and Jones’ 1961 album Genius + Soul = Jazz was the finale with most of the headlining artists and Gregg Field (recorded with Jones and former Count Basie bandmember) on drums, all delightfully performing together. As an extra bonus, Wonder joined everyone for his soulful version of “Happy Birthday.” For more info go to: and

Ziggy Marley Los Angeles – Greek Theatre – Aug 5, 2023

If you wanted to get your groove, funk, or soulfulness on, the teaming of Ziggy Marley, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Mavis Staples at the Greek Theatre was the perfect occasion. Marley, as would be expected coolly espoused ethos of chilling through “Be Free,” “Beach in Hawaii” and (Marijuana Growing) Wild And Free (2011 album) to the audience who basked in his music.

Marley,Ziggy - Wild & Free - Music

However, there’s much more to Marley’s music than that and like his legendary father Bob, he sang to a reggae beat about socio-political upheaval via “Personal Revolution,” “Rebellion Rises,” “See Dem Fake Leaders,” dub-laden “Justice,” and “We Are the People.”  

As a husband and father, he showed his loving side through “The Lucky One,” “Love Is My Religion” and “Circle of Peace” featuring himself playing guitar. Not forgotten, were the surefire crowd favorites that had everyone dancing, such as “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Is This Love” and “Jammin’” to receive a raving standing ovation.

Ziggy Marley and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at The Greek Theatre -  Saturday, Aug 5 2023 | Discotech

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue who came on before Marley, played like they were the headliners with a barrage of high energy songs and solos. Horn-a-rama instrumental “Backatown” the band’s unofficial theme tune featured the trombonist bandleader, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone and other cohorts blazing away to the crowd’s delight. The party continued with funk/rocking “Do To Me,” Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” featuring the lead guitarist and Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.”  Ernie K-Doe’s “Here Come The Girls” with (Trombone Shorty) Troy Andrews on trumpet blew the crowd away with a lengthy circular breathing solo.

Songs from the band’s 2022 album Lifted, included the title track with the bandleader and reed players playing in the audience.  “I’m Standing Here” with traces of the Allman Brother’s “Whipping Post” was more rock oriented and strongly accented by the lead guitarist. Returning to New Orleans Avenue’s very popular funk and R&B was another new tune “Might Not Make It Home” and their second official theme instrumental “Hurricane Season.” Both tunes emphasized the fun and dangers of being in New Orleans.  

Gospel and R&B singer, and civil rights activist, 84-year-old Staples opened the concert and unfortunately had the shortest set. She though, made up for the deficient with soul-drenched and inspiring singing that stirred the audience up. Her standout songs were rousing “I’m Just Another Soldier,” easy flowing “Are You Sure” and guitar jamming “Heavy Makes You Happy.” For more info go to: and

Brooklyn-originating Antibalas (bullet proof in Spanish) combine salacious Latin, R&B, funk, Afro-Cuban and Fela Kuti (1938-1997) Afrobeat motifs to create irrepressible music. Adding to band’s cred, they were the house band for the Tony-Award winning musical Fela! It started off-Broadway in 2009 and subsequently became a hit Broadway and touring show, celebrating the legendary, controversial, and very influential Nigerian artist.

Skirball Sunset Concerts 2022 - Department of Cultural Affairs

In concert at the Skirball Cultural Center as part of its Summer Sunset Concert Series, the band who just hit their 25-year milestone had many of Kuti’s appealing traits, sans anti-establishment and socio-political vocals. Instead, the ensemble led by founding member saxophonist Martín Perna, focused on lengthy trance-like, horn and percussion laden grooves chocked full of spirted solos. In response, the audience tirelessly and enthusiastically danced and reveled to mostly African fashioned instrumentals.

Duke Amayo, the large band’s keyboardist, principal songwriter, and vocalist mostly chanted, scatted and adding choruses for almost all the songs during the vibrant and crowd gyrating concert. Many of them as sort of a preview will be part of Antibalas’ new two-disc project created during the Pandemic that’s set to be released in 2024. For more info go to: and

José James | Enter to Win Tickets at The Ford on Sat, Aug 26th, 2023 - 6:30  pm

José James, a new Pasadena resident, is dubbed by many as “the jazz singer for the hip-hop generation.” He effortlessly glides between the disparate worlds with tantalizing style and confidence, and recently appeared at the Ford Theatre. The singer composes original music and adapts songs by others such as Bill Withers, Billie Holiday,and Gil Scott-Heron into appealing and respectful homages.

James’ latest project On & On: José James Sings (Erykah) Badu follows the trajectory. Most of his studio accomplices, except Ukrainian saxophonist Diana Dzhabbar, joined him for the only show they could all be together at for a somewhat intimate two-hour long concert/showcase (1,200 people). They were Ebban Dorsey-sax (just turned 19 and referred by Kamasi Washington who was in attendance), Ben Williams-bass, Big Yuki-keyboards, and Jharis Yokley-drums. The title track got things started and exploded with high velocity playing, especially by Dorsey who also injected sweet vocal choruses with James’ smooth baritone singing.

The powerful opening song had many wondering if the band had peaked. But those concerns quickly faded away through “Didn’t Cha Know” with Williams doing a slinky intro, the bandleader poetically singing with turntable scratch-like cadences and the band getting into an extended reggae-tinged funk jam. James comfortably exuded intelligent urban charm and called Badu “the Joni Mitchell of his generation.” Her “Green Eyes’ seemed like a jazz standard, until Yuki unleashed beyond belief waves of acoustic and electronic keyboard wizardry. 

“The Healer” originally sang in a child-like manner by Badu was transformed into an assaulting rapid-fire militant rap piece that segued into Wither’s soul-drenched “Grandma’s Hands” to thoroughly captivated the audience. In contrast, “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long” was a R&B vamp featuring James singing soulfully and the band grooving along. While “Out My Mind, Just In Time” was a jazzy ballad spotlighting the headliner’s lush baritone.

Thrown in for good measure was original soul/jazz popping “Trouble” with an extensive classical oriented piano and equally lengthy drum solo, neo soul “Let It Go” with the audience singing along and a Pharoah Sander’s like saxophone interlude. For the encore, James’ breakout song “Park Bench People” that incorporates Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” as the melody line, included him doing furious freestyling and his players jamming away for a standing ovation. For more info go to: and

Smooth Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA – Music  Connection Magazine

Smooth Summer Jazz, or rather Smooth Summer Jazz Party at the Hollywood Bowl with empresario/saxophonist Dave Koz & Friends, aka Summer Horns headlining was full of entertaining music and good times. The other saxophonists with Koz were Eric Darius and Candy Dulfer, who together playfully intermingled with uptown tunes “Highwire” and “Night On The Town” by Koz, and “Sax-A-Go-Go” by Dulfer.

On his own, the main saxophonist rendered his popular song “Together Again” that included a heated call and response with the drummer, Jamie-Leigh Schultz. She was born in South Africa, just turned 20, been in the U.S. since 2015 and amazed the audience throughout the show. Other backing band members were Chris Snowden-bass, Carmel Farrell-keyboards, Randy Jacobs-guitar/Music Director, and Russell Gatewood-DJ.

Dulfer did a silky version of the Isley Brothers’ ballad “For The Love of You” with the audience singing the chorus. Darius, who Koz met when he was 11 performed a scintillating version of David Sanborn’s funky jam “Side By Side.”

The Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” done Earth, Wind & Fire style featured singer Maysa.She’s known for her work with the British acid-jazz group Incognito, soaring, scatting, and interweaving dynamically with Koz. She also included her new chart-topping smooth jazz hit “Runnin’ From Myself.” Pop sensation, singer Jeffrey Osborne who’s very popular with the Summer Horns crowd was the special guest and fired everyone up with his soaring hits “Stay With Me Tonight” and “Back in Love Again.”

The Summer Horns principal players united did with a medley of their favorite summer songs that included Dulfer’s “It’s Summertime,” Koz’s “Summertime in New York City,” Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” with the audience divided by gender singing along and Koz’ “Dance.” Their non-summer songs were rocking “Lily Was Here” by the female saxophonist and the bandleader’s melodic classic “You Make Me Smile.” For the finale, AWB’s anthem “Pick Up The Pieces” featured them with Osborne and Maysa feverishly wailing and grooving away.

Super dapper Morris Day & The Time came on before them and nearly stole the show with their ever popular ‘80s funk jams “Oak Tree,” “Jungle Love,” “Girl” and “Fishnet” that had the audience going wild. Opening band, Jazz Funk Soul, featured smooth jazz heavyweights, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Everette Harp and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr with a hard-hitting backing band. They put down tasteful tunes, loaded with stellar playing and hot solos. For more info go:, Facebook for Jazz Funk Soul and

The word world in blue colors and green colers
Natalia Lafourcade • Greek Theatre • Hasta la Raíz • Mi Tierra Veracruzana  • 8/4/2023 - YouTube

For the last 20 years Mexican singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Natalia Lafourcade, a Grammy and Latin Grammy-winner has successfully ventured where her heart and artistic urges have taken her. Yet, she has remained connected to the folk and traditional roots of her homeland. Her most recent recording De Todas Las Flores is based on the heartbreaking end of a relationship in 2018.

During the first half of her non-stop two-hour show at the Greek Theatre the predominantly Spanish singing performer with her troupe of backing musicians showcased 11 of the 12 songs from the album. Lafourcade donning a black drape-like gown that was about 10 ft. long made a very dramatic entrance to convey her misery. String quartet overture “Vine Solita” opened, and a sorrowful pre-recorded spoken word followed before she played acoustic guitar and sang the title track with band gently playing behind her.

Continuing with full ensemble, the singer tastefully performed bossa/bolero flavored “Pasan Los Días” coolly accented by trumpet and beautifully sung romantico “Llévame Viento.” Lafourcade seemed to come out of her staged funk afterwards and thanked the audience for coming before going into jazzy guitar laden “El Lugar Correcto.”

The singer spoke more afterwards and said she learned so much from the songs on the album. Other standouts from it were cumbia-styled “María La Curandera” garnered with touches of Cuban danzón, blazing trumpet and piano jazzy/samba/son tinged “Mi Manera De Querer,” and breezy “Muerte” graced with Cuban leaning piano and trumpet solos.

Lafourcade ditched the long carpet-like dress for a much shorter one during the second half as if she were freeing herself. She naturally was livelier, and the band jammed intensely as she moved around the stage. The audience already totally enthralled with her, got even more excited as she and the guitarist singing gorgeously covered Pedro Infante’s “Cien Años” and traditional “La Llorona” with her playing cuatro.

Alternately, Simón Díaz’s “Tonada de Luna Llena” was done without him. Her own “Hasta la Raíz” and “Mi Tierra Veracruzana” turned things festive with rapid fire singing and the audience singing and clapping along during the closing moments of the concert. For more info go to: and

the word blues
Joe Bonamassa with Orchestra | Hollywood Bowl

Former guitar prodigy, now contemporary blues statesman, Joe Bonamassa recently made his Hollywood Bowl debut with its orchestra, conducted by David Campbell. Undeniably, it was a very ambitious outing for the multi-Grammy-nominated guitarist/singer. However, it wasn’t his first symphonic concert and he started doing them about five years ago. In 2019 he notably performed at the renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, with the Colorado Symphony, and his dream was to bring the blues/classical melding to the Bowl.

Overall, collaborations between blues artists and orchestras have been limited, with Seiji Ozawa’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra and harmonicaist/singer Corky Siegel coming together on William Russo’s Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra in 1968 possibly being the first. Getting things underway was a medieval court-like overture for “When One Door Opens” from Bonamassa’s 2020 Royal Tea album, a tribute to all the English rock guitar icons who have influenced him.

The singer/guitarist and the assembly, which included two backup singers seamlessly segued into flailing, warlike, Led Zeppelin-styled “Curtain Call” that also spotlighted his slide guitar skills. Other blues/rocking songs were “No Good Place For The Lonely” and “Prisoner,” along with acoustic guitar oriented “Ball Peen Hammer” with woodwinds accenting.

From a more soulful and rawer standpoint, the bandleader and backing singers did dramatically orchestrated ballad “Self-Inflicted Wounds.” Emotionally, in the same vein was “Last Matador Of Bayonne” that included an expressive Spanish trumpet solo intro prior to Bonamassa and vocal cohorts singing resoundingly. Going back to his first album 2000 If Heartaches Were Nickels was the torchlit title track ballad, also boosted by triumphant orchestration and reveling supporting singing to blow the audience away.  

While “No Good Place For The Lonely,” “Prisoner,” and “Ballad of John Henry” were solid blues/rocking songs and received an energetic standing ovation. For the encore, Bonamassa rendered traditional blues styed 24 Hour Blues, title track of his latest album and rock/gospel slow burner Sloe Gin, title track of his 2007 record.

Earlier, without the orchestra, the rocking blues man jammed intensely for “Evil Mama,” “Dust Bowl” and “Heart That Never Waits.” His hard-jamming bandmates were Josh Smith-guitar, Dannielle De Andrea-vocals, Jade McRae-vocals, Calvin Turner-bass, Reese Wynans-keyboards (Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who played with Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Bowl in 1986), and Lamar Carter-drums. For more info go to: and

Text Special Mention
San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2023

San Jose Jazz Summerfest 2023 provided a fascinating mixture of high profile, emerging, and homegrown artists spread around nine outdoor and indoor stages. Topping the lineup was the very popular soul/jazz vocalist Gregory Porter, who literally preached to the audience during a late Sunday afternoon. He had them enthusiastically amening to optimistic “Holding On,” jubilant “On My Way to Harlem” and “Liquid Spirit,” and powerfully inspiring “Take Me to The Alley.”

Alternately, Veronica Swift spun a tantalizing eclectic web that showcased her fiery vocal chops, spirited audacity, and a few new songs from her eponymous new record. Standouts were San Francisco’s psychedelic pioneers Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” mashing Beethoven with torchy singing for “In The Moonlight,” and a horn and scat laden version of Ellington’s “Do Nothing Until You Hear From Me.”

Vocalist Benny Benack III also a trumpeter, breezed through Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone” and Burt Bacharach’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” Sax/singer Grace Kelly injected an entertaining mix of R&B, jazz, funk including her shimmying while playing, and cinema highlighting new project Grace Kelly With Strings at The MoviesHalie Loren was more mainstream oriented and very charming. She had the women in the audience chuckling with an a cappella version of Tuck & Patti’s “High Heel Blues.”

The Vocal Gents of Jazz, comprised of veteran singers Kenny WashingtonNicolas Bearde and Jamie Davis were refined, and powerful individually and collectively, with LA’s Josh Nelson serving as the Music Director/pianist. The suave gentlemen thrived with a bevy of swinging standards and soothing ballads that had many women in the audience swooning. San Francisco’s Yvone Flores adeptly did jazzy interpretations of pop hits by Todd Rungren, Bill Withers along with Nina Simone’s “Wild is The Wind” and standard “Where or When.”

Marcus Miller - Bass Players You Should Know. Ep2 - YouTube

Bassist/composer Marcus Miller balanced jazz and funk with thematic groove “Maputo” and neo-bop oriented “Mr. Pastorius,” dedicated to Jaco. Multi-faceted Patrice Rushen’s set was similar but leaned more to R&B with her singing “old school” jams “Settle For My Love” and “Remind Me.” Instrumentals, bossa flavored “Arrival” featured the bandleader blazing on piano, easy flowing “Missing You” spotlighted her trumpeter, and bluesy “Song For a Better Day” highlighted her composing talents.

The realm of mainstream and related jazz was strongly represented at SJJS 2023 with a strong assortment of artists to checkout. Multi-Grammy winner and Gugenheim Fellowship Awardee Billy Childs shot out the gate with his trio for a dazzling set that included whirlwind “The Great Western Loop” from his new album The Winds of Change, and gorgeous ballad “It Never Entered My Mind.” It was dedicated to his departed friend, master pianist Mulgrew Miller who taught him the tune.  

Fast emerging keyboardist Connie Han’s Trio injected an aura of mysticism and intellect with stimulating selections from her newly released album Secrets of InannaIsaiah Collier beautifully merged the deeply spiritual and meditative explorations of Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders with impressive tenor saxophone playing and calming singing well beyond his 24-years on the planet.

The nearly 25-year-old Marcus Shelby New Orchestra with vocalist Tiffany Austin, grandly exhibited No Cal big band artistry. They shined with a smoking version of “It’s All Right With Me,” Mingus’ tranquil “Self Portrait in Three Colors” with lyrics from Austin, and Ellington’s reflective “Mood Indigo.”  The festival’s own SJZ Collective featuring Ukrainian trumpeter Yakiv Tsvietinskyi played Freddie Hubbard’s music. Their set was highlighted by breezy “Sky Dive” and ripping “The Core (Congress of Racial Equality).” Topical slow-drawn piece “Solitude” was composed by Tsvietinskyi’s trumpeter friend who sadly died in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

Quartet, Bad Plus performed unconventional and sometimes humorous fused selections “Motivations II” and “Stygian Pools” from their 2022 eponymous album, along with older “Anthem For The Earnest.” Somewhat related and essentially in their own unique categories were contemporary jazz drummer Malachi Whitson’s set of jazz funk originals and M.A.E.S.U.N. aka Hailey Niswanger.She took the audience on an hour-long seamless celestial odyssey in which she played keyboards, saxophone and sang.

Latin music a SJJS mainstay was prominently presented and ranged from rocking Cuban superstar Cimafunk, who served up plenty of pop-styled music, but never forgot his Afro-Cuban/salsa roots. Telemary & Friends amazingly commingled Latin jazz, salsa and hip-hop that was perfect for partying. Comparatively, Maraca w/Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion were very traditional as their name states with charanga, traditional danzón and cha-cha-chá selections much like Havana in the ‘50’s.

There was a strong contingent of blues artists starting with multi-talented Vanessa Collier who sings, plays saxophone and guitar. She though, left the guitar ripping and soloing to San Diego-based Laura Chavez, first woman to win Best Guitarist at the Blues Music Awards this year. The Bay Area’s own singer/guitarist/songwriter Noah & The Arkiters were unbelievably funky and rocked the stage he called “The House of Soul.”

The Blues Defenders were a soul/gospel/blues review boosted by singers MZ. Dee and Willy Jordan. Singer/guitarist Marcel Smith, originally from Sacramento was solid “old school” R&B who flourished doing songs by Tyrone Davis, Johnny Taylor,and himself. Chickenbone Slim also from San Diego was downhome with a touch of honky-tonk and enlisted Chavez to blaze away.

From a Delta and folk standpoint, Sunny War dexterously played acoustic guitar and huskily sang, backed by her drummer, mostly spotlighting songs from her new recording Anarchist Gospel. Singer/keyboardist Bee Taylor also only backed by a drummer, dynamically sang, and scatted with a flare for New Orleans music.

SJJS additionally branched out with contemporary artists such as second-line funk jamming The Soul Rebels, hip-hop legend Big Daddy Kane who had a captivating killer organic band, and W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend To Cause Havoc) a 50-year-old band originally from Zambia who span James Brown to Led Zeppelin and more. Essentially, the festival covered a lot of ground, yet never diluted its quality or authenticity. For more info go to:

Herbie Hancock at Hollywood Bowl on Wed, Aug 23rd, 2023 - 8:00 pm

Donald Byrd’s 1961 recording Free Form was as Humphrey Bogart said in the movie Casa Blanca, “the start of beautiful friendship” between pianist/composer/educator and The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock and reed icon/composer/educator Wayne Shorter. Several years later as a member of Miles Davis’ celebrated quintet, Hancock and drummer Tony Williams lobbied for Shorter to join the band.

Concurrently, the iconoclastic trumpeter had been aggressively trying to recruit him from Art Blakey’s popular globetrotting Jazz Messengers.

In 1964 it became a reality, and soon afterwards Shorter became the group’s main composer. Hancock later departed in 1968 and the reedist remained in Davis’ expanding employ until 1970.

All the while, both players developed into critically acclaimed solo artists. At the beginning of the ‘70s they individually became superstars in jazz, fusion, and funk, while also dabbling in rock and pop. Throughout that tumultuous era and onward they retained a deep friendship, bonded by music, Buddhism, love of family and creative restlessness.     

Herbie Hancock Celebrates Wayne Shorter at the Hollywood Bowl in remembrance of the saxophonist who passed away this year was clearly a “must do” concert for the LA Phil. It covered many aspects of the influential saxophonist’s career, with Hancock serving as emcee and performing in most of the band configurations. The first was with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spaulding, pianist Leo Genovese and Los Angeles’ own saxophonist Kamasi Washington doing a dreamy, yet also edgy piece as the bassist cheerily scatted. 

Hancock afterwards brought out his, and Shorter’s adorable and very shy toddler grandsons, while reminiscing about his friend and introing his 20-year-old quartet. It consisted of Danilo Pérez-piano, John Patitucci-bass, and Brian Blade-drums with guest saxophonist Chris Potter. They did a muscular version of Shorter’s modern standard “Witch Hunt” and lesser known intensely pulsing “Joy Rider” to captivate the audience.

Afterwards Hancock pointed out that the Bowl’s unique turntable stage had to be manually rotated due to both a hurricane and earthquake unusually occurring the weekend prior. The made it perfect for what he called a “re-imagining” of Shorter’s pioneering Weather Report fusion music (1970-1985). Hancock, with bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, percussionist Alex Acuña, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, Potter, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke and keyboardist Julian Pollack robustly interacted for exhilarating “Palladium” and signature “Birdland,” along with thematic ballad “A Remark You Made.”

Related to the Weather Report segment was guitarist Carlos Santana and wife, working with Hancock, Loueke, Miller and Washington. They served up for an electric and rhythmic interpretation of Davis’ mainstream classic “All Blues,” and jazz rocking “Sanctuary” from his innovatory Bitches Brew album wrought with fervid guitar and saxophone solos. It notably, garnered some of the concert’s strongest crowd reactions.

Without the Santanas, Hancock reunited with Davis alumni, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette, along with Blanchard, Potter, Washington, and alto saxophonist Devin Daniels a graduate from the keyboardist/emcee’s institute. They all profoundly immersed themselves in Shorter’s modern jazz tunes “Delores” and “Pinocchio” recorded by Davis’ mid to late 1960’s ensembles. The unbelievable evening’s finale was a scorching take on Shorter’s best-known composition “Footprints” with Carrington, Miller, Patitucci, and Acuñajoining the grouping.

Adding balance to the concert of high caliber and intense musicianship were melodic songs featuring Shorter’s non-jazz and extremely influential friends, Milton Nascimento and Joni Mitchell. Brazilian Nascimento unable to attend, prerecorded a beautiful song shown on the venue’s large screens with Hancock, Blade, Spaulding, Potter and Loueke coolly accompanying live.

Mitchell though, was the big surprise and nearly stole show with her very soothing and philosophical folk song “The Circle Game,” gently supported by Hancock, Blade, Patitucci and Loueke. Overall, concertgoers were very excited and will be talking about this concert for a long time… For more info go to: and

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