Labor Day Weekend’s Detroit International Jazz Festival is looming, and Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press is profiling some of its headliners. In today’s column, pianist Herbie Hancock tells Stryker about his early experience with Miles Davis.
“After a couple of months of trying to play what I thought would please Miles, I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to let this out.’
“So the next gig, which I think was in Chicago, I just played what I really wanted, and if it clashed with something Miles did, I threw it in there anyway.
“After the set I thought I was going to get fired. Miles walked up and said” — and here Hancock imitates Davis’ famous raspy whisper — ” ‘Why didn’t you play like that before?’
“Miles wanted to hear me. That set me free.”
Here’s a little of what Stryker writes about Hancock:
Hancock’s go-for-broke attitude electrifies the bandstand. Very little in jazz matches the anticipation that rises when Hancock starts a solo, because to a degree unusual even in an art based on improvisation, you never know what’s going to happen — and there’s a chance you’re about to hear the greatest piano solo you’ve ever heard.
To read the whole thing, go here, Perhaps you’ll be as astonished as I was by the size Hancock’s performance fees.