The hidden face of Herbie Hancock's success in Barcelona


Just a few minutes from the start time, the concert of Herbie hancock at Jazz Festival from Barcelona I was practically discontinued, although the people who filled the Palau de la Musica I did not know, I did not know it. A hundred meters away, in Via Laietana, the police charged against the independence protesters who had concentrated in front of the Leadership.

History almost repeats itself. In 1967, Miles Davis He left his band planted for discrepancies with his agent. It was shortly before a concert was held at the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona. The quintet became a quartet. That those musicians were nothing less than very young Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock did not avoid the disappointment of the public, who had paid to see the guy who was leading the greatest revolution in jazz history.

Albert Mallofre narrated those facts in a chronicle of The vanguard titled Miles Davis's fraudulent escape had an unexpected end.

52 years have passed. On October 26, in the same Palau and in the same festival, the musicians who accompany Hancock on his current tour were about to go out to play solo as well, since the keyboardist was not in a position to do so.

The stalls of the Palau de la Musica, minutes before the concert began. / LORENZO DUASO

The stalls of the Palau de la Musica, minutes before the concert began. / LORENZO DUASO

In fact, at 21.30, the scheduled time for the start, the concert was about to be canceled. Only those spectators who know Tito Ramoneda, president of The Project and director of the Voll Damm-Jazz Festival of Barcelona, ​​when they saw him discuss on foot with two collaborators, with some concern, when some minutes of delay were already accumulating.

Some present attributed the delay to the desire of the organization to allow time for people to reach the Palau, since a few meters away, on Via Laietana, repeated clashes between law enforcement and protesters protesting the 1-O sentence.

They ignored that at the same time, Hancock, 79, was resting after suddenly feeling unwell and that his team had told the organization that, unfortunately, there would be no concert.

Without its Jazz Festival, Barcelona would be sadder and definitely less cultured.

Hancock had arrived in the city a few days before. The keyboardist, a great professional, wanted to have time to prepare the concert well, because he knew little of some of the musicians who accompany him on this tour. In fact, the one in Barcelona was the show that started its new tour. European.

On Saturday morning he landed in Barcelona Lionel loueke, a guitar player from Benin who plays the best musicians of the moment. On the same Saturday, Hancock and Loueke rehearsed together at the Palau. When this contact between the two was over, Hancock wanted to retire to his hotel, located on the Gran Via. But the organizers of the festival advised against it: they feared that protesters would be concentrated in the surroundings and preferred that their star was already inside the Palau well before the concert. They tried their best to make him feel comfortable and convinced him.

Lionel Loueke, a Benin guitarist who plays the best musicians of the moment / LORENZO DUASO

Lionel Loueke, a Benin guitarist who plays the best musicians of the moment / LORENZO DUASO

A while later, the author of Watermelon Man he could observe from a window, with concern, how the protesters fleeing the police charges tried to access a Palau that was closed, while some spectators who had not taken the precaution of accessing the room from Amadeu Vives Street showed their distress entrance to let them pass.

Did all that tension, coupled with the uncertainty of the previous days, influence the artist's health? The organizers do not dare to affirm it, although the sequence of events was exactly that.

Logically, Hancock was offered the possibility of canceling, even though the room was full. In the end, the musician decided to test himself. Neither effective tickets on stage nor collecting a medal in recognition of his time at the festival: Hancock would go out alone and sit at the piano. If he was well, he would continue; if not, he would go to his hotel and give the alternative to the formidable colleagues who accompanied him: Elena PinderhughesLionel Loueke James Genus Y Justin Tyson.

The keyboardist finally appeared at 9:50 p.m., with a slightly tense countenance. The ovation was scandal. The Barcelona public keeps a very good memory of other Hancock visits. Fortunately, as soon as the first notes of Overture Everything started to flow. Mind you: the organization was shaking until the minutes went by and the artist was feeling better and better.

The success was resounding. Karles Torra, critic of The vanguard, titled your article Infinite mastery. "Gifted composer," he wrote, "the Chicano teacher presented some newly created themes and charted an exciting journey through emblematic compositions of the sixties and seventies, which sounded as fresh and vital as if he had composed them yesterday."

Hancock watched, worried, the protesters would run in front of the police

The more than two thousand people (including quite a few young people) present pulled the bis up, Chameleon. And that had cost to reach a Palau half besieged by the revolt against the sentence. It would be necessary to ask why, after several nights of burning containers, there were barely any desertions, since only 40 seats were left empty with tickets already acquired, the usual percentage in this type of concert.

Maybe it was like that because the jazz audience doesn't wrinkle easily. This genre has withstood the passage of time and fashion better than others. And it tends to perpetuate itself because its influence seems infinite. Without jazz, for example, maybe hiphop would not exist.

And we will add: without its Jazz Festival, Barcelona would be sadder, less imaginative and definitely more uneducated.

The double bass of that mythical concert …

The members of that mythical quintet that Miles Davis walked the world in 1967 continued to come to Barcelona. Tony Williams died prematurely in 1997, Hancock, Shorter and Carter have starred in memorable concerts in the city. The double bass player, Ron Carter, returns next Sunday with a concert at the Barts, within the same Jazz Festival. Lead a quartet in which they are Jimmy Greene
(tenor sax), Renee Rosnes
(piano) and Payton Crossley

Ron Carter, during a concert that offered spring 2018 in New Orleans / ERIKA GOLDRING, GETTY IMAGES

Ron Carter, during a concert that offered spring 2018 in New Orleans / ERIKA GOLDRING, GETTY IMAGES

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