A few thoughts about Herbie Hancock’s outstanding concert Friday night at the Minnesota Zoo:
- The repertoire was the right mix of “hits” (“Cantaloupe Island,” “Chameleon”) and lesser known and new material. The music was intellectual yet accessible. And some of it, especially "Chameleon," was downright funky. The quintet played for nearly two hours, with the first piece “Overture” (a pastiche of various pieces) lasting nearly a half hour. The group received a well-deserved standing ovation after each of the six selections performed.
- Hancock has assembled a terrific band of excellent players who listen to each other and clearly have chemistry.
- Lionel Loueke, who was born in Benin, is a special guitarist who, as Hancock explained to the standing-room-only crowd, makes sounds like you’ve never heard from a guitar. He created video-game like blips and touch-tone phone beeps as well as more familiar guitar sounds that were ethereal in a Carlos Santana kind of way.
- Loved the rhythm section, with bassist James Genus, who is in the “Saturday Night Live” band, playing melodic and funky at the same time and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, who has worked with Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell and Sting, offering the right combo of subtle and solid.
- The new kid in the band was Terrace Martin, 38, whom Hancock introduced as producer of hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar’s celebrated “To Pimp a Butterfly” and Hancock’s forthcoming album. Martin played alto sax and keyboards, adding texture, depth and variety. The smiling musician sometimes seemed more in awe than awe-inspiring.
- At 77, Hancock remains a magical musician. Playing electric piano, grand piano and keytar, he mixed bop and funk, classical and jazz, melody and funk, flash and finesse. What a marvelous musical treasure.