Herbie Hancock Wins Music’s Highest Honor

“Unbelievable,” said Quincy Jones after he read the winner of the Album of the Year Grammy. My reaction would have needed to be bleeped. River: The Joni Letters by Herbie Hancock, a pure jazz recording, won the music’s biggest award. Herbie said it was the first time in 43 years that a jazz album has won that. What a great thing for jazz.

News: Oscar Peterson Tribute, David Benoit, John Beasley Tribute To Herbie Hancock

Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and Nancy Wilson were among the musicians who paid tribute to the late Oscar Peterson on January 12 at Toronto‚Äôs Roy Thomson Hall. The event, titled “Oscar Peterson: Simply the Best” saw 2500 fans offering a final farewell to the legendary pianist. He died on December 23, at the age of 82, of kidney failure. Several good recaps of the emotional goodbye were written by J.D. Considine, John Stewart (for the Mississauga News), and Scott Anderson (for Reuters). An archive is available at the CBC site. Share your thoughts on Oscar Peterson in The Forum.

David Benoit counts Oscar Peterson as one of his influences. The contemporary jazz pianist is recording an album of compositions from his favorite artists, including Peterson, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, the Doors, the Beatles, and Elton John. It’s titled Heroes and will be out this year.

Also on the topic of tributes: John Beasley has been working on a tribute to Herbie Hancock. He’s joined by Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride and Jeff “Tain” Watts. The recording, expected in March, is the one of the first on a new label called Resonance Records. According to the press release, Resonance Records artists “benefit from an innovative revenue-sharing concept that not only offers greater economic return, but also allows them to produce their music without the typical studio time restrictions and their related expenses.”

Herbie Hancock – Possibilities

Want to know all about Herbie Hancock’s Possibilities recording? Check out Jim Harrington’s June 30 interview with the legend at LiveDaily. Things have changed a bit since I initially reported on it. It appears that the all-star recording will be released on Starbucks’ Hear Music in conjunction with Hancock Records and Vector Records, not Verve. In addition to talents like Sting, Santana, John Mayer, and Paul Simon, Joss Stone and Christina Aguilera have joined the lineup.

Partnering with Hear Music raises the question: will Herbie’s latest be available exclusively at Starbucks? Will it have an advance exclusive for a month prior to retail release like Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill Acoustic? I have not been able to find the answers through news searches. I have not seen it advance listed at Amazon.com, which is unusual given that it is due in less than two months. Possibilities is currently expected on August 30.

Jazz Grammy Winners

History holds true as the Pat Metheny Group won the Best Contemporary Jazz award at the Grammy Awards on February 23. Metheny beat out excellent releases by John Scofield, Joe Zawinul, Yellowjackets, and Larry Carlton. Metheny didn’t win every award he was nominated for tonight, though. B.B. King took home the Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “Auld Lang Syne” against Metheny, Dave and Jeff Koz, Moby, and Kirk Whalum.

The Caribbean Jazz Project won the Best Latin Album. The Dave Holland Big Band won for Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Herbie Hancock picked up a couple of Grammys. He won Jazz Instrumental Solo for “My Ship” from the Directions In Music CD. He also got the award with Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove for that release in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group category. Diana Krall bested the other women (no men nominated in this category?!) for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Dave Grusin won Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist for “Mean Old Man” from James Taylor’s October Road. And the magic holds true when Take 6 and Stevie Wonder get together. The guys won R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for “Love’s in Need of Love Today” from the America – A Tribute To Heroes release.