I wrote the following concert review a few days after attending Herbie’s show on April 12, 2000 in Munich. It was originally sent to the now defunct Hancock mailing list.
On Wednesday, April 12, Herbie celebrated his 60th birthday, and of course I was one of his guests … OK, not really. He gave a concert that day in the Philharmonie in Munich, which I couldn’t miss, of course. There were quite a lot of people (including Klaus Doldinger) who congratulated him before and after the show – I think even some newspapers announced the fact that the day of the show is also his birthday.
Herbie played with his current Gershwin’s World band – which features Ira Coleman on bass, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion, Eddie Henderson on trumpet and Eli Degibri on saxophone. He introduced all of his band members right at the beginning of the show; the best part of that was when a guy from the audience yelled „sexy drummer!!“, and Herbie said „Yeah, no doubt, we’re glad there’s someone in the band who is sexy,“ then turned to introduce Cyro and said „On the other hand …“. Cyro grinned, and Herbie said „No, I’m sure the girls find you sexy,“ and Cyro replied „My mom finds me sexy.“
The performance was awesome; they played Gershwin tunes (with two exceptions – „One Finger Snap“ and the encore, „Cantaloupe Island“) and turned them into a kind of suite since there was no talking or chatting between the pieces. Herbie seemingly listened to a whole lot of freejazz CDs before this concert, as the first piece was unusually abstract and free, with Eddie Henderson eager to remind everyone that he played trumpet on CROSSINGS. The other pieces (I think I’ve heard a snippet of the melody of „It Ain’t Necessarily So“ at some point, other than that I didn’t recognize the tunes) were less free but still much edgier than the versions on the GERSHWIN’S WORLD CD. Often enough, Henderson and Degibri did some fierce soloing with a high ’squeak factor‘. Carrington played well – quite frantically, actually – and had not only one but *two* long drum solos (both excellent, but I could have done without the second). Coleman didn’t have as much of a spotlight, but he was excellent, too, holding everything together with precise and calm playing. Baptista was the star of the show – at least for the first few songs – since he kept on switching instruments every 3 seconds; he seemed like a child who wanted to show all his new and exciting instruments, seemingly afraid that after these 3 seconds the audience would lose interest. After a while, of course, the instruments became familiar, but during the first piece the focus was definitely on him. Anyway, his playing was excellent and he added an interesting flavor to the music – and he was an interesting contrast to Bill Summers.
Herbie’s playing was (I guess I won’t have to say that it was excellent, but hey, I just said it anyway) interesting. He’s seemingly developing towards a more abstract, edgier style, as much of his playing was quite hard – the usual high runs came less often, instead he concentrated on low and sometimes dark chords. I noticed hints at this development in earlier concerts and sometimes on the newer CDs, but now it’s coming much more to the forefront. Fascinating.
Well, I guess that’s all I can report. You all know that I really enjoyed the concert, and hey, if I sound biased, so be it.
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