Monday, February 11, 2008

Hurray for Herbie

Legendary jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock, has won a Grammy for best recording of 2007, River: The Joni Letters. I have not heard it (since I typically shy away from vocal recordings), but, according to The New York Times, the award caused some controversy, since Herbie is not a pop/shlock performer, but (horrors) a real jazz musician. They say:

"Though the choice of Mr. Hancock may stoke criticism that Grammy voters are out of step with pop music’s cutting edge, the decision was defended backstage. Vince Gill, the country superstar who lost out to Mr. Hancock in the album of the year field, said Mr. Hancock was 'hands-down a better musician than all of us put together.'"

Quite so, Mr. Gill. An ant salutes a lion.


Tom said...

Yes, what a pleasant surprise it is that the Hancock record won album of the year. Every once in a while the Grammies will surprise you.

While Vince Gill isn't my cup of tea, your comment about him is not in the ballpark of fair, Doug. He's a very talented guy (that's not to say he hasn't done some real schlock). Read a rather extensive review from of the record that Hancock beat here:

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Okay, please forgive my indulgence but here's what the NY Times had to say about the four-disc Gill record. (I'm not a fan of Vince Gill's but I play one on this blog.)

Doug Groothuis said...

I knew I'd get people with the ant remark. It is based, really, more on the medium than the man. Jazz is far more creative and intelligent than country.

BJ the Tornado said...


This is great stuff.
Go Herbie.

I actually caught some of the Grammies show the other night and, surprise again!, they actually highlighted Herbie on the show as he played a duel-piano arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue wth pianist Lang Lang.
It was awesome!

Great stuff.

A quote from Herbie on the Grammy:
"I'd like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time, and in doing so, honoring the giants upon whose shoulders I stand... This is a new day that proves that the impossible can be made possible."

Right Herb!

Becky Vartabedian said...

Kudos to the grammy voters for having some sense. The album is excellent, and like you DRG I generally have a sentiment of "Yuck!" to jazz with singing. Not that my affirmation says a lot, but it is a good album and the interpretations of Joni Mitchell's work are tasteful. It is presently getting heavier airplay on KUVO as a result of the award.

Jeremy said...

I was holding out for Britney.

Seriously, I quit watching the grammies a long time ago because people like Hancock don't win. It's good to see some good taste guide the decision process.

That said, you're all a bunch of jazz snobs (excepting Tom). BJ, Dr. G, and Becky, you know I say that with love. Vince Gill is an incredible guitar/mandolin player. His bluegrass is a lot better than his country.

Tom, despite not being a fan, thanks for sticking up for him. I have family in Fayetteville. The next time I'm in town, I'll buy you some coffee.

Doug Groothuis said...


I can accept bluegrass! I didn't know he played that.

ktimboe said...

Dr. G,
You say you shy away from vocal recordings. Is that mere personal preference or is there an idiosyncratic philosophy lurking?

Vocal artistry when combined with meaningful lyrics can inspire the soul or move one to tears. A person only has to listen to one of the top Lutheran college choirs in sacred music, or an African American spiritual well done, or a Blues giant, to understand the emotional power.

Because of your respect for words and your interest in music, your comment was surprising. Perhaps you were thinking mainly of jazz vocals.

Doug Groothuis said...

I have nothing against jazz vocals. I simply lean toward the instrumental, partially because I cannot listen to vocals and read at the same time! Much of my jazz listening is while reading.

So, there is no philosophical complaint lurking in the background. I love Sinatra, but have none of his recordings!

hobie said...

Jazz vocalists: Kurt Elling. I'm still waiting for the Grammys to recognize the vast talent and great jazz sensibility of this man. If you've ever dug vocalese, listen to any of his cds and you'll get it.