Thursday, September 16, 2010

conceptual gardening as jazz doing 70

interviewer: [Now 70,] Herbie Hancock’s own musical journey began as a boy in Chicago. Classically trained, he was good enough to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at a youth concert at age 11. Turning to jazz, Hancock gained sudden and international fame in his early 20s with his first great collaborator and mentor, Miles Davis. An early lesson came at a concert in Europe. At first, Hancock says, everything was going right.

HH: We had the audience in the palm of our hands. And right as everything was really peaking, and Miles was soloing, I played this chord, and it was completely wrong. [laughter] …And Miles took a breath and then played some notes, and the notes made my chord right….

Somehow, what he chose to play fit my chords to the structure of the music….What I learned from that is that Miles didn’t hear the chord as being wrong. He just heard it as something new that happened. So, he didn’t judge it. I learned the importance of being nonjudgmental, taking what happens and trying to make it work. That’s something you should apply to life, too…. If you’re not judging what happens, then you’re trusting what they’re doing, what you’re playing, and trusting what you’re playing. And it can lead you to other ideas, to something maybe you hadn’t expressed before…. We should keep looking at finding ways to combine, because, I mean, how do you make different colors? You make different colors by combining those colors that already exist…. You know, to me, that’s what makes the world interesting. That’s what makes the world continue to evolve.… And, also, it takes a lot of focus. Doing this musically takes a lot of concentration and being willing to be naked, in a way, being vulnerable. That’s the best place to be in playing jazz and in improvising and reinterpreting.

from an interview today of Herbie Hancock.