Whatever else you call Herbie Hancock — jazz-piano paragon, funk-fusion pioneer, Afro-Futurist, humanitarian, sage — you’d have to agree on “moving target.”
Forward motion is the hallmark of his multifaceted career, which has yielded all manner of accolades, including a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys in 2016.
That same year, Hancock checked in with The Checkout, speaking from his home in Los Angeles. The conversation covered a lot of ground, including his most enduring lesson from Miles Davis; his artistic engagement with NASA’s space program; and his dedication to “bringing the cultures of the world together.” Those insights and more are featured in this edition of The Checkout, along with music from a 2016 concert at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! (previously featured in an episode of Jazz Night in America).
Speaking with Simon Rentner, Hancock also touched on the dimensions of his current musical project. “I’m working with a lot of young people,” he said. “Many of them are friends of Flying Lotus and Terrace Martin, like Thundercat, and also Robert Glasper.”
A long-awaited album featuring these artists, pillars of the new L.A. scene, has yet to materialize. But Hancock has been on a co-headlining tour with saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and he features Martin in his own band. He performs at the Beacon Theater in New York City on Aug. 1, and at the Newport Jazz Festival on Aug. 2, 3 and 4.
Hancock’s whole enterprise, as he sees it, is to help foster a global consciousness. By working together, he suggests, it’s possible to create music “that reaches out to really solving some of the global climate problems that can only be solved if humanity is together as one unit, fighting for the survival of Planet Earth.”