Celebrating Peace: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Cindy Blackman Santana & More
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Starring: Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Wayne Shorter, Cindy Blackman Santana, Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland, Andy Vargas, Kalil Wilson, George Whitty
Featured performer: Carlos Santana
Special guest: Gregoire Maret Quartet
Songs performed: The Secret Life of Plants (Gregoire Maret); Ode to Joy, Afro Blue, Intro to Sonrisa, Sonrisa, Dis is Da Drum, Spartacus, Ponta De Areia, 7 Power, They Don’t Really Care About Us, Novus (Herbie Hancock and All Stars); and much more
The opening act was the Gregoire Maret Quartet, led by the Swiss-born Mr. Maret. As introduced by Herbie Hancock himself, he said “You’ve never heard someone play harmonica like this.” And rightfully so. Sure, you have heard harmonica in some rock/blues bands. But this is the first time I have heard it being used with improvisational jazz music. He was able to make very soulful sounds with that mouth harp. They even performed a cover of Stevie Wonder’s The Secret Life of Plants.
After a brief intermission, the show resumed with Herbie Hancock and his band of All Stars — Marcus Miller, Wayne Shorter, Cindy Blackman Santana, Zakir Hussain, Dave Holland, Andy Vargas, Kalil Wilson and George Whitty. Marcus Miller is a bass player, and I had seen him before at the Bowl with 2 other bassists in a group called SMV. David Holland plays the stand-up bass, and has been performing and recording for five decades.
Wayne Shorter is a saxophonist and composer, who has worked with Miles Davis and won multiple Grammy awards. Cindy Blackman Santana is an acclaimed drummer who has worked with Lenny Kravitz and Santana (she married Carlos in 2010). Zakir Hussain plays the Indian tabla. So he was seated playing an array of different size drums with his hands for the entire performance. George Whitty is an accomplished musician/composer/producer/engineer, who was playing keyboards on this night.
Two guest vocalist helped out on selected numbers: Andy Vargas and Kalil Wilson. Kalil is a classically trained singer with operatic leanings. Andy is a more of an R&B, pop vocalist and a member of Santana.
The first number featured quotes from Martin Luther King as well as sounds of children playing. The intros to numbers were often very new-agey, and ethereal. One of the early songs also featured some pygmy vocals, something similar to the group Deep Forest.
Because there were so many great musicians, the songs tended to go on for a while — so each of the musicians got their time in the spotlight to show us what they were worth. Some of the highlights: Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana trading off riffs, with Herbie playing keytar and Carlos an electric guitar. Also of note, was the percussion duel of Cindy Blackman Santana and Zakir Hussain.
The 2 songs with vocalists were Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” and the finale “Novus”. The first being sung by Andy Vargas and Kalil Wilson singing the finale. The MJ song has taken on a new life since his death, it would have been Michael’s 54th birthday that day. Plus given the state of the world and politics, it was fitting for the night, given the theme.
I was surprised by how much Carlos Santana was in the show, given his billing as Special Guest. But he was there for the entire show, and he showed why he is the superstar and rock god that he is. The crowd loved his guitar playing, adding texture and punch to all the songs.
Thanks to all the talented musicians for an entertaining evening of music ‘Celebrating Peace.”
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Hiking in the Spirit and Real Kilt Men Wear Kilts. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.