Posted October 31, 2011 | © Photo courtesy of Dallas Symphony Orchestra
You could tell going in that people were excited about the Herbie Hancock concert at the Meyerson just by the way they dressed. Sure, you had the normal black suits, sports coats, occasional pair of jeans, etc.; but Monday night's crowd was doused with a heavy sprinkling of glamour and BLING! Feathered hats, fur vests, sequined jackets, leather minis, exotic leopard prints, and much more.
So naturally, when the legendary pianist and composer walked onto the stage, the crowd jumped to its feet with loud sustained applause and whistles. The now 71-year-old Hancock responded, "I started to say, 'How you doing Dallas?', but I can tell you're fine!"
To accompany his acoustic solo performance at the grand piano, Hancock brought along an assortment of computer equipment, sometimes playing piano with one hand and running electronics with the other. He explained along the way that he likes technology and variety because it's fun, and that the advantage of playing without a drummer or a bassist is the flexibility it offers. He did mention though that it can be a disadvantage as well because when he's in the 'zone', time doesn't exist and he can get carried away and not know when to stop. We just thought, "That's a disadvantage how?"
After mesmerizing the crowd with the beautifully elegant fingering of "Footprints" (composed by Wayne Shorter) and "Dolphin Dance," Herbie performed "Sonrisa" (a piece he wrote himself). The laid back, casual nature of his free flowing set continued to crescendo as he added a variety of African, Latin, and Asian inspired electronic beats and sound loops to his often improvisational, sometimes experimental performance.
Next up, his reharmonized version of George Gershwin's "Embraceable You" seemed to transform the vast auditorium into the feel of an intimate, high end martini bar in maybe Monte Carlo or somewhere where we all came in for a quick drink only to become so entranced by the musical atmosphere that we could've stayed until the sun came up.
It was the funky "Cantaloupe Island" and stylized encore performance of "Chameleon" that got the audience grooving though as Herbie picked up his keytar and rocked to the much delight of the crowd. Along with a series of reproduced vocal sounds, Herbie added enhancements galore. Think 'wika-wika-wika,' 'wahk-wahk,' 'grooaan, grooaan,' 'tsst, tsst, tsst,' 'ahah, ahah,' 'ding, ding, ding, ding.' (It was Hancock, after all, that composed the soundtrack for the Bill Cosby animated children's television show Fat Albert!) Yep, classic Herbie Hancock in a concert for a pleased crowd that was absolutely in no hurry to leave.
With an Academy Award and a stack of Grammys under his belt, Hancock, founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, has released the critically-acclaimed CD, 'Herbie Hancock's The Imagine Project,' which was recorded around the world to promote "peace through global collaboration and mutual respect for other cultures" and features a lineup of big name musicians including Jeff Beck, Seal, Pink, Dave Matthews, Chaka Khan, The Chieftains, and more alongside a collection of top international artists. Additional information about the project (and the complementing documentary about the recording process) as well as upcoming tour dates and news can be found at www.herbiehancock.com.
Next up over at the Meyerson, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Cirque Musica, an exciting new concert that blends today's greatest circus-style performers with the world's best loved music! For more information, see performance details.