HERBIE HANCOCK, Robert Glasper Experiment, Jamie Lidell and The Royal Pharaohs

HERBIE HANCOCK

Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With an illustrious career spanning five decades and 14 Grammy® Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters, he continues to amaze audiences across the globe.
There are few artists in the music industry who have had more influence on acoustic and electronic jazz and R&B than Herbie Hancock. As the immortal Miles Davis said in his autobiography, "Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven’t heard anybody yet who has come after him."
Born in Chicago in 1940, Herbie was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science, and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.
In 1960, Herbie was discovered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. After two years of session work with Byrd as well as Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed with Blue Note as a solo artist. His 1963 debut album, 'Takin’ Off', was an immediate success, producing the hit “Watermelon Man.”
In 1963, Miles Davis invited Herbie to join the Miles Davis Quintet. During his five years with Davis, Herbie and his colleagues Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums) recorded many classics, including 'ESP', 'Nefertiti' and 'Sorcerer'. Later on, Herbie appeared on Davis' groundbreaking ‘In a Silent Way.'
Herbie's own solo career blossomed on Blue Note, with classic albums including 'Maiden Voyage', 'Empyrean Isles', and 'Speak Like a Child'. He composed the score to

Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film 'Blow Up', which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.
After leaving Davis, Herbie put together a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded 'Head Hunters.' With its crossover hit single "Chameleon," it became the first jazz album to go platinum.
By mid-decade, Herbie was playing for stadium-sized crowds all over the world and had no fewer than four albums in the pop charts at once. In total, Herbie had 11 albums in the pop charts during the 1970s. His ’70s output inspired and provided samples for generations of hip- hop and dance music artists.
Herbie also stayed close to his love of acoustic jazz in the ’70s, recording and performing with VSOP (reuniting him with his Miles Davis colleagues), and in duet settings with Chick Corea and Oscar Peterson.
In 1980, Herbie introduced the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world as a solo artist, producing his debut album and touring with him as well. In 1983, a new pull to the alternative side led Herbie to a series of collaborations with Bill Laswell. The first, 'Future Shock', again struck platinum, and the single "Rockit" rocked the dance and R&B charts, winning a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The video of the track won five MTV awards. 'Sound System', the follow-up, also received a Grammy in the R&B instrumental category.
Herbie won an Oscar in 1986 for scoring the film "'Round Midnight", in which he also appeared as an actor. Numerous television appearances over the years led to two hosting assignments in the 1980s: "Rock School" on PBS and Showtime's "Coast To Coast".
After an adventurous 1994 project for Mercury Records, 'Dis Is Da Drum', he moved to the Verve label, forming an all-star band to record 1996's Grammy-winning 'The New Standard'. In 1997, an album of duets with Wayne Shorter, '1+1', was released.
The legendary Headhunters reunited in 1998, recording an album for Herbie's own Verve- distributed imprint, and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the recording and release of 'Gershwin's World', which included collaborators Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea. 'Gershwin's World' won three Grammys in 1999, including Best Traditional Jazz Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance for Stevie Wonder's "St. Louis Blues."
Herbie reunited with Bill Laswell to collaborate with some young hip-hop and techno artists on 2001's FUTURE2FUTURE. He also joined with Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker in 2002 to record a live concert album, 'Directions In Music: Live at Massey Hall', a tribute to John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
'Possibilities', released in August 2005, teamed Herbie with many popular artists, such as Sting, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone and Damien Rice. That year, he played a number of concert dates with a re-staffed Headhunters, and became the first-ever Artist-In-Residence at the Tennessee-based festival Bonnaroo.
In 2007, Hancock recorded and released 'River: The Joni Letters', a tribute to longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell featuring Wayne Shorter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and co-produced by Larry Klein. He enlisted vocalists Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen and Mitchell herself to perform songs she wrote or was inspired by. The album received glowing reviews and was a year-end Top 10 choice for many critics. It also garnered three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year; Herbie is one of only a handful of jazz musicians ever to receive that honor.
In 2010 Hancock released the critically-acclaimed CD, ‘Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project,’ winner of two 2011 Grammy Awards for Best Pop Collaboration and Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Utilizing the universal language of music to express its central themes of peace and global responsibility, the ‘Imagine’ project was recorded around the world and features a stellar group of musicians including Jeff Beck, Seal,Pink, Dave Matthews, The Chieftains, Lionel Loueke, Oumou Sangare, Konono #1, Anoushka Shankar, Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Tinariwen, and Ceu.
Herbie Hancock also maintains a thriving career outside the performing stage and recording studio. Recently named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair For Jazz, he currently also serves as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the foremost international organization devoted to the development of jazz performance and education worldwide. Hancock is also a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was recently awarded the much esteemed “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.
In July of 2011 Hancock was designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Recognizing Herbie Hancock’s “dedication to the promotion of peace through dialogue, culture and the arts,” the Director-General has asked the celebrated jazz musician “to contribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote mutual understanding among cultures, with a particular emphasis on fostering the emergence of new and creative ideas amongst youth, to find solutions to global problems, as well as ensuring equal access to the diversity of artistic expressions.” UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors are an outstanding group of celebrity advocates who have generously accepted to use their talent and status to help focus the world's attention on the objectives and aims of UNESCO’s work in its fields of competence: education, culture, science and communication/information.
Now in the fifth decade of his professional life, Herbie Hancock remains where he has always been: in the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music. Though one can't track exactly where he will go next, he is sure to leave his inimitable imprint wherever he lands.

Robert Glasper Experiment

ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT

Breakthrough success can often be a tough act to follow. But with a little help from some notable friends, Robert Glasper Experiment is set to up the ante with the follow-up to his successful GRAMMY-winning album Black Radio. Flaunting a diverse array of featured guests including Common, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brandy, Jill Scott, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco, Luke James, Emeli Sandé, Lalah Hathaway, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Black Radio 2 is certain to surprise and delight critics and fans alike. With a unique fusion of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop that brazenly traverses the boundaries of all three genres, Black Radio 2 finds Glasper and his musical cohorts creating in a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.

“This record was a little different,” explains the Houston, Texas native. “I didn’t want to make the same record twice. I wanted to make a conscious effort to keep the vibe and the spirit of the first one without it sounding the same.” Considering his own rich musical journey, this sonic shifting approach to Black Radio 2 seems to be a long time coming. Reared in a household where Motown, R&B, and gospel were constant companions, his mother sang and played piano in church while indulging in her love for jazz and blues by performing at local clubs. By the age of twelve, he’d begun to fully follow his mother’s lead by playing piano in church and accompanying her on club dates on the Houston circuit.

Glasper went on to sharpen his prodigal chops at the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and New School University, allowing his developing affinity for pop, hip-hop, and rock to inform his musical sensibilities. By 2003, Glasper had already racked up spots in the bands of prominent jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, and Roy Hargrove. In addition, his deep appreciation of hip-hop and R&B allowed him to form lateral bonds in those respective worlds. Guided by his mother’s example, Glasper simultaneously performed jazz while taking gigs as a touring musician and musical director for artists such as Maxwell, yasiin bey, Q-Tip, and Bilal.

With an impressive wealth of experience and talent, it was only a matter of time before he’d become an artist in his own right. That same year, he released his debut album Mood on Fresh Sound Records. Blue Note signed Glasper soon after and released his label debut Canvas (2005), followed by In My Element (2007) and Double-Booked (2009) – his first GRAMMY-nominated effort which juxtaposed his acoustic Trio with the electric Experiment band. While those albums were primarily rooted in jazz, he made certain to sprinkle his other musical influences into the stew. But in 2012, he decided it was time to serve the full main course. Glasper’s Black Radio was released that year to a maelstrom of critical acclaim. Featuring the likes of Erykah Badu, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Meshell Ndegeocello, and yasiin bey, the album was cultivated via a series of jam sessions with artists from varying genres whom Glasper formed alliances with during his time in the music industry. “Everybody just came to the studio and we did stuff on the spot,” he says. “That was the vibe. I wasn’t thinking R&B.”

Black Radio was heralded by media outlets such as Rolling Stone, who wrote “Glasper heads down the fraught path of hip-hop jazz and gets it right,” adding “with music this smart and inviting, the implied diss of mainstream doesn’t feel like sour grapes; it feels like a blueprint forward.” The lead single “Ah Yeah” with Chrisette Michele and Musiq Soulchild landed on radio playlists nationwide, and TV appearances on Late Show With David Letterman, Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon followed. But when Black Radio took home the award for Best R&B Album at the 2013 GRAMMY Awards, there was no doubt that all eyes were on Glasper and his band of musical brothers.

In the wake of the GRAMMY win, offers to collaborate were abundant and bountiful. This withstanding, Glasper chose to curate his next aural exhibit more keenly to achieve a specifically desired effect. “Black Radio got so much love from the R&B world, so I made a conscious decision to concentrate a bit more on songs for this record,” he says of the anomalous coup. With that, Glasper set out to focus on R&B song structure that complimented his jazz pianist chops as well as that of the rest of Robert Glasper Experiment – Casey Benjamin (saxophone/vocoder), Derrick Hodge (bass), and Mark Colenburg (drums).

With this concept firmly in hand, Glasper reached out to noted R&B songwriters to collaborate with. Soon afterwards, he ensconced himself in the legendary Los Angeles recording studio Westlake Studios with the members of the Experiment and a handful of guest vocalists to craft material for the new album. The glowing results from this session and subsequent sessions in Los Angeles and New York City are evidenced throughout the 12 dynamic tracks on Black Radio 2.

Featuring the scintillating vocals of multi-platinum superstar Brandy, GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars, R Kelly, Michael Jackson) paints a melodic portrait of a languishing love affair on the head nodding cut “What Are We Doing.” GRAMMY-winning Roc Nation songwriter Andrea Martin (Melanie Fiona, Angie Stone, Monica) contributes a tale of longing on the intensely passionate “Yet To Find” as lauded recording artist Anthony Hamilton infuses the track with his patented brand of grit n’ soul. Conversely, Detroit recording artist Dwele brims with the confidence and assurance of a love supreme on the Rhodes embroidered “Worries,” penned by Young Money recording artist and GRAMMY-winning songwriter PJ Morton (India.Arie, Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder).

Yet even with the proven songwriting talent of his aforementioned company, Glasper exhibits the wisdom to allow some of his featured guests the freedom to flex their skill behind the mic as well as with the pen. The results are brilliantly exemplified in the album’s soaring opening track “I Stand Alone” that was crafted with collaborators Common and Patrick Stump, and the lead single, “Calls” featuring Jill Scott, where Scott weaves a story of a metaphysical romantic connection partly quantified in answered phone calls over a lush bed of Glasper’s dreamy piano chords. The mesmerizing mid tempo track “Trust” follows suite featuring the crystalline vocals of singer/ songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, who is a noted songwriter in her own right having penned the Michael Jackson hit “Butterflies.” Black Radio 2 also features pensive spoken word interludes interspersed amongst the musical mélange by esteemed African American academic/ author Michael Eric Dyson and gospel singer/ preacher John P. Kee.

Poet/actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner made a spontaneous and meaningful contribution to the album when he dropped by the studio and ended up penning and recording a thought-provoking slice of spoken word poetry on the profoundly poignant and symbolic rendition of the Stevie Wonder gem “Jesus Children Of America,” featuring the vocals of Black Radio alumnus Lalah Hathaway. The song is fashioned as a tribute to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy and has a deeply personal meaning for Glasper. “The very first time I performed that song live was during a Stevie Wonder tribute on the day the Sandy Hook tragedy took place,” he recalls. “I’d also found out that a close friend lost his daughter in the tragedy. So when we did the Stevie song, I almost lost it. It hit close to home, because I have a four-year-old son.”

Amidst the immense star power, Black Radio 2 also manages to shine a light on buzz worthy newcomers like BRIT Award winning U.K. artist Emeli Sandé (“Somebody Else”) and Island Def Jam recording artist Luke James (“Persevere” featuring Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco). In addition to the original 12 tracks, the deluxe edition of Black Radio 2 includes four bonus tracks: “I Don’t Even Care” featuring Jean Grae and Macy Gray, “Big Girl Body” featuring Eric Roberson, “My Everything” featuring Bilal and Jazmine Sullivan, and an instrumental cover of the classic Bill Withers tune “Lovely Day” featuring a spoken intro from Mr. Withers himself who made a surprise visit to the studio in Los Angeles.

Black Radio 2 further exemplifies Glasper’s remarkable skill as a producer and musician adept at extracting a truly extraordinary side of his guests’ acclaimed talents, irrespective of differences in genre. It is also a magnificent display of an undaunted jazz composer intent on allowing the full range of his musical influences ebb and flow through his output in an astonishing fashion. Black Radio 2 serves as a conceptually illustrious reminder of the multitude of possibilities for musical collaboration and blurring the lines. But for Glasper, this is merely second nature.

“Jazz musicians are becoming more comfortable with music that speaks to them personally,” he muses. “I think it’s very important that musicians feed off the fruit of the music that actually is the soundtrack of their lives. The only way to keep something relevant is to renew it from history and let it grow and change. When that happens, you start getting stuff like Black Radio 2. Black music is the house that has many rooms. Black people have invented so many dope genres that everyone loves: Jazz, blues, gospel, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and the list goes on. I’m just visiting all those rooms. It’s my mansion; it’s our mansion. I don’t have to exclude anything. With that said, who knows where I’ll go next.”

Jamie Lidell

Jamie Lidell hasn't stopped moving.

He's like a shark. Albeit a stone cold funked-up, sonically obsessed, romantically soulful killer shark. And he isn't going to stop. No, he won't stop. Please don't ask him to. Just get out of the way, enjoy the spectacle and the soundtrack.

Jamie's a genuinely restless soul. He broke out of small-town England and has been a nomad ever since. His constant desire to progress—leaping and stumbling towards new discoveries—has defined his musical journey so far; and there's no sign of it fading away.

Dig into the discography and you'll find underground techno, two albums of Super_Collider's fondly recalled science-funk (with Cristian Vogel), and his magnificently wigged-out solo debut Muddlin Gear. Then, in 2005, came Multiply, a surprisingly hook-stuffed, meticulously produced platter of deliciously uplifting soul and funk that won international adulation. Meanwhile, Jamie's one-man shows were, quite literally, something else. Live, he pushed himself and his technology against the limits of chaos and control.

By 2008, Jamie had become Jim—building on the foundations of Multiply to construct a warm, invitingly plush bordello of funk, disco, grooves and gospel; with secret chambers of poignant soul. The accompanying tour saw him evolve from peerless sonic manipulator into a dandy showman leading a blazingly talented four-piece across the world's clubs, stadia and TV studios. Yet, that sense of exploration that he craves was never far away.

Now it's 2010, and Jim has left the building. So Jamie returns with a new map for these territories. Undoubtedly, Compass is his most eclectic album yet. Songs shift, chop, change and mutate genres and forms before our very ears. It's got funk in spades; the jaw-dropping power of the vocals is stronger than ever; it rocks, it pops, it's sweet, angry, hard, soulful and soft, often within the span of a single track. It's the restless album that finally matches the soul of its creator.

"I wrote every song in a month," Jamie says, "It's been an emotional couple of years, so I tapped into what I wanted to say and started writing. There was a lot to draw on." Recorded in Los Angeles, New York and Canada, Jamie's fellow travelers on Compass include Beck, Feist, Gonzales, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Pat Sansone of Wilco. Musically and lyrically this is very much A Jamie Lidell Production—reflecting not only his exhilarating, diverse tastes, but also a year of change, love, longing and arrival at a new place. When he takes to the road in 2010, he'll be bringing a band again, but stripping it back; keeping it lean. For both newcomers and initiates, this will be an experience. And no, he won't stop.

Undoubtedly, Compass is his most eclectic album yet. Songs shift, chop, change and mutate genres and forms before our very ears. It's got funk in spades; the jaw-dropping power of the vocals is stronger than ever; it rocks, it pops, it's sweet, angry, hard, soulful and soft, often within the span of a single track. It's the restless album that finally matches the soul of its creator. Jamie's fellow travelers on Compass include Beck, Feist, Gonzales, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Pat Sansone of Wilco. Musically and lyrically this is very much A Jamie Lidell Production—reflecting not only his exhilarating, diverse tastes, but also a year of change, love, longing and arrival at a new place. When he takes to the road in 2010, he'll be bringing a band again, but stripping it back; keeping it lean. For both newcomers and initiates, this will be an experience. And no, he won't stop.

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