As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, the big jazz news for the autumn is that Herbie Hancock is playing Symphony Hall on Thursday, November 20.
What I didn’t know then was how strong his band will be. And as bands go they don’t come much stronger.
Herbie does so many different things – all of them worth hearing – but, like his fellow Miles Davis alumnus Wayne Shorter, he seems to be favouring a more acoustic setting at the moment.
For the Birmingham gig, his Sextet will comprise Terence Blanchard on trumpet, James Genus on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Kendrick Scott on drums.
Blanchard is, of course, a star in his own right – his recent album A Tale Of God’s Will, based on his soundtrack to Spike Lee’s post-Katrina films, is a triumph of orchestration and composition, and his trumpet playing is rich and romantic while also having a funky earthiness in it.
James Genus was last seen here as part of the Dave Douglas Quintet at the CBSO Centre, while Kendrick Scott has an equally impressive CV, but is also most closely associated with Blanchard.
The harmonica playing of Swiss-born Gregoire Maret was a revelation in the Pat Metheny Group during their This Way Up tour, and he has also recorded with Cassandra Wilson, George Benson, Steve Coleman and many others.
Lionel Loueke, from Benin, is a name on everyone’s lips at present. Not only is his debut Blue Note album, Karibu, drawing enthusiastic reviews but his characteristic acoustic guitar style has also featured on Blanchard discs and many others.
For an example of how some expertly phrased guitar fills can add the final cherries to an already delicious confection, just listen to how Loueke works on Edith And The Kingpin, on Herbie’s Joni Mitchell tribute disc, River. This track is also a revelation in showing just how fine a singer Tina Turner is.
So, many more reasons then, to go to see and hear the Herbie Hancock Sextet at Symphony Hall on November 20.
You can book for this now at thsh.co.uk or call 0121 780 3333.
Meanwhile, laying down those jazzy beats this week are:
Wednesday – if jazz in shopping centres is your thing, do some evening mall-cruising at the Touchwood Centre in Solihull at around 5.30pm and you can catch The Elements, newest signings to the Acid Jazz label. It’s free.
Friday – Steve and Ian Palmer (that’s Carl’s brother and nephew) do a percussion thing with horns in Oozells Square from 5.30pm. It’s part of the Summer Jazz in Brindley Place series brought to you by Rush Hour Blues and Birmingham Jazz. It’s free. From there you can pop across to the newly opened The Public at West Bromwich for the 8pm start of a free session by Tipitina.
Sunday’s regular sessions at Bar Risa are drawing to a close, but you can still catch young blues singer Lexie Stobie and her band from 7pm. Admission is free.
If you have any news or views you’d like to share, email me at email@example.com
The blog is at thejazzbreakfast.blogspot.com