HERBIE HANCOCK, MICHAEL BRECKER, ROY HARGROVE, Abravanel Hall, Jan. 7.
It's not often you get a concentration of talent such as that in Abravanel Hall Tuesday night. Jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker headlined a tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane, joined by Roy Hargrove, John Patitucci and Brian Blade — talented artists who, on any other night, would have been the main event.
The result? A high octane crew that packed a wallop.
The concept behind the tribute wasn't so much to re-create the sounds of Davis and Coltrane as it was to re-create the ideals for which they stood — daring creativity, acceptance of new ideas and a dynamic interaction with their musical environment. So the concert wasn't so much a step back in time as it was a step forward, in the direction of Hancock, Brecker and Hargrove's creativity.
Several new compositions made their way into the repertoire, such as Hargrove's "The Poet" and Hancock's "The Sorcerer." One chart was created from a concept introduced to Hancock from Davis — reordering an already completed composition (the one they played was taken from a Davis chart). And of course, they played a few charts from both Davis and Coltrane, such as "Transition" and "So What" — but with their own twist.
The best part of the concert was hearing these artists interact. It was almost like eavesdropping on an incredible conversation among five brilliant minds. Everybody had something unique to contribute, and their exchange fluid, a constant metamorphosis with continual give-and-take.
Hancock's creative explorations stayed in the background, yet he came up with some original thoughts weaved around Hargrove and Brecker. One of his solos took him to the bottom of the keyboard, where he managed some fairly intricate detail without muddying anything.
Brecker's solo performance of Coltrane's "Naima" was all the explanation anyone needed about why he is the leading saxophonist in the world of jazz. It's as if he managed to capture the world, with its range of emotions and experiences, in one place. Hargrove often took a more forward, aggressive approach, yet his balladry and unison playing with Brecker was smooth and expressive.