I couldn’t make it to hear one of the icons of jazz play in London on Saturday.
Herbie Hancock was on with Lang Lang and the Philharmonia Orchestra in the 6,500 seat Albert Hall.
Tonight they will be at the 15,000 Arena di Verona.
I’m bushy-tailed curious…..
1) Did any LondonJazz readers go on Saturday ( I couldn’t) ?
2) If you went what did you think?
3) Will there be any reviews in the mainstream media? And if there aren’t, what’s that telling us?
London Evening Standard gave it a mixed review. Couldn't find any other mainstream media reviews. I am not used to writing music reviews so I will keep this short.
Herbie played a fantastic 20 minute jazz set after about and hour and a half which for me was the highlight. Lang Lang's playing was mesmerising at times but when Hancock did his solo bit for 20 mins you could tell who had the real passion. Rapsody in Blue was interesting but a little too contrived. I thought the orchestra played it a little too much in the background but what do I know. It lost too much of it's powerful rhythm and energy in the dueling pianos between them both.
There have been two reviews
Ivan Hewett who hated it
and Jack Massarik who enjoyed it slightly more
I'm not a usual reader but I went to the concert somewhat out of the blue for my friend's stag do – and I reckon we were the youngest members of the audience present.
I am not overly familiar with Hancock's work and my friend probably expected more Jazz than classical and the majority of us had never been to the albert hall, had never heard an Orchestra or even any Herbie. However we all loved it – though I regret to say four of us left to get drunk before Rhapsody in Blue – an embarressment for me as I was next to the only four empty seats in the entire venue.
I, however, stayed and found the second half much better than the first (with the exception of the unexpected Mozart opener which was immense. It was good music, well played, regardless of the improvisation and delicate touches (I was seated in the lower stalls literally a few feet away from the stage and had the privilage of watching Herbie play with his back to me) and it was refreshing to see and hear the general fun and mischief which underlied the music throughout.
It wasn't overtly jazzy until the end but you'd have to be a complete moron(sorry Ivan) to not appreciate the level of musicianship by both players and the Orchestra, and the level of fun comaraderie between Herbie and Lang Lang – laughter is something not usually heard in a concert during playing and that has to say something.
In brief I loved it but I suspect it wasn't what a lot of people expected/paid for – and, yes, I feel those that were closer probably got more out of it – myself amongst them.
I saw them last sunday @ the North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam. They were joined by the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, conducted by Tony Axelrod.
It was AMAZING, Lang Lang's improvisations were fresh, exciting and “jazzy”. He played Liebestraum by Liszt and what he called a “chinese tango”. He invited Herbie Hancock to add in any improvisation he felt like on the chinese piece (I believe it was called “Springdance”).
They also played “Rhapsody in Blue” together, it was breathtaking. The rapport between the two musicians and the orchestra, led by a fenomenal conductor, was awesome. The audience fed of the energy between the musicians that were on stage. The atmosphere was electric. A great experience!
It was Stephan Grapelli and Yehudi Menhuin all over again…