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Keyboard Master Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock is honored as he moves into his fifth decade of keyboard greatness at the leading edge in this performance from NPR's Toast of the Nation.

Whether jamming with the Headhunters, floating with the Miles Davis Quintet, piloting his own group, playing a Gershwin standard or a composition of his own, pianist Herbie Hancock has contributed to almost every development in jazz since 1960. Acoustic or electric, his touch and his time are easy to recognize.

He's one of the great American explorers in jazz. Herbie was only 23 when Miles Davis introduced him as the newest member of Miles's quintet. With momentum from that band -- one of the best groups in all of jazz -- Herbie's career exploded. Since then he's stayed at the top, opening the ears of listeners everywhere.

In January of 2005, Hancock adds a new honor to his long list: the President's Award from the International Association of Jazz Education. They cite Hancock as "without question, one of our most vital 21st Century musicians". The National Endowment for the Arts named him a 2004 Jazz Master. That award usually goes to an elder statesman or -woman, but though almost a senior citizen (incredible!), Herbie Hancock is still as fresh-sounding as he looks.

This time we're at the Blue Note in New York City for New Year's Eve, December 2003, with Herbie Hancock, Gary Thomas on tenor and flute, Scott Colley on bass, and Teri Lynne Carrington on drums.

Hancock has said that his primary objective is to pursue what's in his head and heart and hope that the audience comes along with him. For midnight, 12/31/2003, he played his composition "Maiden Voyage" and for a few gorgeous minutes, everyone traveled through life together. Thank you, Herbie!

"I Love You" by Cole Porter
"Canteloupe Island" by Herbie Hancock -- with a stop-time arrangement
"Middle Way" by Teri Lynne Carrington
"St. Louis Blues" by W. C. Handy

Keyboards: Herbie Hancock
Tenor Saxophone: Gary Thomas
Bass: Scott Colley
Drums: Terri Lyne Carrington


  • Herbie Hancock Site

  • The Blue Note in New York

  • Herbie Hancock at Blue Note Records

    Our set at the Blue Note was produced by Josh Jackson. Music mix and post production by Duke Markos, with Steve Remote in the remote truck, and Paul Boothe in the sound booth.
    Molly Murphy is our writer. Our producer is Becca Pulliam; Audio Engineer, with Ginger Bruner at KUNV in Las Vegas; and Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe the Third of WBGO-FM in Newark.

    Copyright 2007 NPR