Herbie Hancock’s 80th birthday and thanks to Chick Corea

For almost a month now, Chick Corea has been opening his door up for a Facebook live event every day, allowing people to watch him practice and perform. It has been an amazing time to see Chick in a personal setting. On April 12, Chick Corea’s dedicated the hour to Herbie Hancock’s for his 80th birthday. It reminded me of what an influence Herbie has been for my entire career, and I was inspired to reflect on that as well. I’ll never forget the sound of my brother repeatedly playing the “Headhunters” album back in 1973. So, I put on my “Headhunters” t-shirt, like the fan I am, and then went to the piano to play some of Herbie’s compositions. Of course, as I studied, I dove back into Herbie’s entire career, and it led me to so much other music; Red Garland, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly, Art Tatum, and many more. Chick had played a beautiful version of Dolphin Dance, so I started with that. Then I pulled out a full transcription I did of “Actual Proof” that has always fascinated me. Hats off to the other members of the band from that album “Thrust” as well: Mike Clark, Bill Summers, Paul Jackson, and Bennie Maupin.

I first met Herbie around 1989. I was with our band, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, and we were both staying at THE MAYFAIR hotel in London, and briefly chatted at the hotel entrance as we waited for car pickups. He was gracious and kind, and as soon as we departed, I immediately thought of about 100 questions that I wished I had asked him. 

Our paths crossed paths again on December 3, 1997 at the Kennedy Center Honors award show. Gloria Estefan was being honored, and Herbie was attending as a previous honoree. Our cast of “On Your Feet” was performing, and I was musical director. I also got to work and accompany Chaka Khan, which is good for another blog-post someday. Herbie was, once again, open and inviting, and I was so glad to have a few minutes telling him how much his music has given me.

Anyway…..here’s to you, Herbie! You’ve made such an incredible impact on me and on the music world for many years. 

At the Kennedy Center Awards event 1997
Headhunters t-shirt

1 thought on “Herbie Hancock’s 80th birthday and thanks to Chick Corea”

  1. I have had such a great time revisiting transcriptions I did years ago of “CHAMELEON” and “ACTUAL PROOF”. The performances and production always fascinated me, and digging into the details again has been incredibly fun for me. I use CUBASE to set a tempo map up, then transcribe the entire orchestration and play all the instruments into Cubase for reference. WOW!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.