Hancock 's Grammy win is just a lot of noise

Feb 11, 2008 Read more: Chicago Tribune 37
So the pop music industry is shocked - shocked! - that a 67-year-old jazz musician won the album of the year award at Sunday's Grammy Awards. Read more
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David Marine

Culver City, CA

#21 Feb 11, 2008
Herbie Hancock thinks his album is a jazz album. Wayne Shorter thinks the album is a jazz album. The jazz community has embraced the album as a jazz album, just as it has embraced Mitchell's work with Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, etc. Reich ignores all this, and then holds up Louis Armstrong as a standard-bearer for jazz? He doesn't think Armstrong's work appealed to those listening to the "pop" music of his era? And Mr. Reich's dismissal of Joni Mitchell as a "folkie"? I saw Hancock and Mitchell perform a song from this great album at the Thelonius Monk Institute awards, and guess what? Everyone thought it was jazz. Please, please tell me this is a joke. If not, it's the worst excuse for music criticism that I've had the displeasure to read in a long time. I encourage everyone to give a listen to this great album, even if it doesn't meet the smug Mr. Reich's standards.
Tim

Prescott Valley, AZ

#22 Feb 11, 2008
While I agree with you about last night, I think being a jazz snob doesn't give you the right to trash people who make jazz that isn't up to a lofty, smoky-hazed, heroin-induced standard. Why does jazz have to conform to purist notions of the sound? The debate came up when fusion was introduced, it came up when the legendary artists of the 1960s broke through, and now it rears its judgmental head again just because the jazz is smoother rather than old-fashioned? I thought Kanye deserved a win on merit for his CD, not Herbie Hancock, but stop hating on a sound just because it doesn't have someone making music without an Amy Winehouse hangover to it.
Jay

United States

#23 Feb 11, 2008
NotAMusicSnob wrote:
Reich is so predictable is his opinions. Used to like his reviews, but he is now so snobbish & dismissive of other art forms that it is painful to read. Relax Howard - life is too short to rail on everything that doesn't meet your standards. If you lower your nose a bit & let the music into your ears, perhaps you'll hera something wonderful?
Here's a cheat sheet for Howard Reich's music criticisms, past and present:

- If it's a jazz artist with mass popular appeal, they're not real jazz artists. Howard and Howard alone gets to define what's real jazz and what isn't.

- If it's not jazz, it's cr*p!(Say it with a Mike Myers Scottish accent)

- If it's an artist you haven't heard of, they're awesome. And if you haven't heard of them it's your fault for being close-minded to artists so clearly superior to anything you listen to.
Jeanne Destro

Seattle, WA

#24 Feb 11, 2008
Your story is mean-spirited and innacurate. While Herbie Hancock's latest album does have some pop leanings; it is most definitely "real jazz"; and If you knew anything at all about what jazz actually is; you wouldn't have written such an uninformed article. The music on "River: The Joni Letters" is complex, subtle, and very, very good. It has plenty of improvisation, and is never predictable or trite.

Maybe you can't get past the part about it being accessible and melodic; which makes you just another psuedo-sophisticated jazz critic with a bias toward atonality and complexity. Perhaps you think the only "good" jazz is the kind most people don't like or can't understand. Or, maybe you just have really bad taste and a hearing problem.

In my book, if an album is as well composed; arranged; and performed as "River: The Joni Letters" most assuredly is; then it deserves respect and acclaim. In this case, my fellow Recording Academy members spoke out loud and clear on that account, and I'm glad they did.
Domini

Eau Claire, WI

#25 Feb 11, 2008
It is a wonderful jazz album, as good as "Cantaloop Island" and other things. It well deserved the award. Accessibility does not mean pop. This is modern jazz. Maybe Reich should listen to what the Urban Knights or others are doing.

I get the feeling this was pretension for pretension's sake. How sad.

Go Herbie! Innovating once again!
IHS

United States

#26 Feb 11, 2008
ChicagoPork wrote:
The only reason Winehouse won anything was the da mn liberal music industry wanted to poke fun at the Homeland Security Dept. for wanting to keep a verminous druggie out of our country. She can rot in haddies for all I care...
Wow, that was, uh, pro fou nd.
Bill Traut

San Diego, CA

#27 Feb 11, 2008
I AGREE!
SaxnFlutman

Atlanta, GA

#28 Feb 11, 2008
How sad, reading snotty, elitist drivel as this, supposedly from a lover of "jazz". It's truly amazing that he can rain on Herbie's parade, & album (which while not my favorite's of his, is certainly jazz, for the most part), all the while glorifying Louis Armstrong. For had Reich been around & writing while Louis was playing, he'd be bashing him even more than Herbie!
LIke all true artists, Armstrong didn't create artificial barriers as to what's "valid" music; thus he performed various pop tunes, which he did well, helped pay his bills, & obviously had a gas doing!
Seems it's only critics with sticks stuck firmly up their.....
Robert Fischer

Chicago, IL

#29 Feb 11, 2008
Amen, Howard. And you might have mentioned that Hancock's two-piano duet with Lang Lang on G. Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" also had nothing to do with jazz.
hal on lakefront

Chicago, IL

#30 Feb 11, 2008
Smug isn't the word. Were we supposed to be more inspired by some insipid, pop crap? Joni Mitchell's music transcends the popular, the hype. That she is finally rewarded for what she has brought to American Art (capital A) in a ratings-tested, what-were-the-numbers game is way, way overdue. If you can honestly tell me that you were more inpired by Kanye's day-glow glasses than the seering truth of what Hancock brought our of Mitchell's melodies, then you need to re-adjust your ipod. No one, and I mean no one, has succeeded more in telling the truth than Ms. Mitchell. Dog Eat Dog? Listen and learn.
sherry

Portland, OR

#31 Feb 11, 2008
ummm, last time I checked, musicians and affiliates of the music business get to VOTE for the grammy's...he deserved to win if the members of NARIS wanted him to.
Chaz

AOL

#32 Feb 11, 2008
And the beat goes on.
Jonathan

Fort Wayne, IN

#33 Feb 14, 2008
I agree with most of what you have written, but I would argue that Herbie's "pop" efforts as of late are a LOT closer to jazz than, say, Norah Jones's grammy winning albums. Norah is a great musician and has been influenced by jazz, but she's has gone in a more singer-songwriter direction. Herbie, on the other hand, is most definitely jazz and so is the rest of his band on his latest album and the only thing that changes is the song material and the singers.

Sure, this album isn't a "pure" jazz album, but what is? What is jazz anyway? Swing rhythm, what about fusion? New Orleans, what about New York? Bebop, what about "cool" jazz? To me, jazz is more of an approach than a genre. In the end, Herbie's grammy IS for a jazz album.
Music Industry veteran

Brentwood, TN

#34 Feb 14, 2008
Folks, what the media has clearly missed is that the Grammys are not a public popularity contest, or a measure of success based upon sales (or theft!)

The Grammys are nominated, then voted upon, by the 12,000+ members of NARAS, those of us who actually MAKE music recordings. We, as artists across various disciplines and crafts, acknowledge our peers for exceptional achievement. While there is no denial that some block-voting is done by members who are employed by large corporate entities, in general it is the artists, producers, engineers, and other key people who decide what is deserving based on artistic merit.

Herbie Hancock's win is a wonderful sign that a fair number of people still care about music as an art form, not merely as a commodity.
jamesl

Albany, NY

#35 Feb 15, 2008
possibly the most ignorant commentary ot the dozens i have read on this subject. wow, how could you get everything so wrong? is this a parody?
jamesl

Albany, NY

#36 Feb 15, 2008
Jeanne Destro wrote:
Your story is mean-spirited and innacurate. While Herbie Hancock's latest album does have some pop leanings; it is most definitely "real jazz"; and If you knew anything at all about what jazz actually is; you wouldn't have written such an uninformed article. The music on "River: The Joni Letters" is complex, subtle, and very, very good. It has plenty of improvisation, and is never predictable or trite.
Maybe you can't get past the part about it being accessible and melodic; which makes you just another psuedo-sophisticated jazz critic with a bias toward atonality and complexity. Perhaps you think the only "good" jazz is the kind most people don't like or can't understand. Or, maybe you just have really bad taste and a hearing problem.
In my book, if an album is as well composed; arranged; and performed as "River: The Joni Letters" most assuredly is; then it deserves respect and acclaim. In this case, my fellow Recording Academy members spoke out loud and clear on that account, and I'm glad they did.
thank you!!! jeanne. this is a very bizarre article. was he drunk?
Waldo

Burlington, VT

#37 Feb 16, 2008
Hey buddy, excuse me, but the last time I checked, Wayne Shorter and Dave Holland were on also on that album and they played Nefertiti of all tunes. If that doesn't qualify it for the status of "authentic jazz album," what does? And what exactly are your jazz credentials? "River" in no way represents "the commercial alternative" to jazz. It is infact a highly cerebral and indeed, very challenging album. Go back and listen to the aforementioned recording of Nefertiti (and I repeat played on by Wayne Shorter, who is as authentically 'jazz' a musician as ever was born) and tell me that is commercial. Sure, "River" doesn't sound like "Takin' Off," "Maiden Voyage," or "Thrust," but that's not Herbie's sound anymore. Rather, it is infused with all the trappings of contemporary jazz, played at the highest possible level. In this way, it sounds much like Wayne Shorter's (there's that guy again) recent recordings "Footprints Live" and "Beyond the Sound Barrier," which have little in common with say, "Night Dreamer" and "Speak No Evil" from the 60s. But clearly this isn't the point. "River" IS a jazz album, and for anyone to say anything to the contrary only displays a high degree of ignorance about the music. Oh, and don't ever think it's okay to compare Herbie Hancock to Kenny G again. Herbie Hancock is the most influential jazz pianist of all-time. Kenny G is a disgrace to music.

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