« Bessie Coleman helped black women soar | Main | Care & maintenance of the over-50 athlete: Core fitness »

Bebop and beyond

Herbiekareem

Herbie Hancock has just been awarded the 2008 Grammy award for Album of the Year -- a collaborative effort with Joni Mitchell. I've known Herbie since I was in high school. The night of my high school graduation, I went to the Village Vanguard and had the pleasure of seeing him perform with Miles Davis' band, without Miles. I got to know the whole band because of my friendship with bassist Ron Carter. We have maintained our friendship since this time. It has been a real treat to see Herbie's reach expand constantly.  He has never forgotten Duke Ellington's edict to swing.

"River: The Joni Letters" represents Herbie's expansion beyond the race- based straitjackets of nomenclature imposed on American musicians.  American music has such a rich and varied foundation it is really grotesque to try to define it as R & B or rock or pop or metal or Latin or Reggae or country or blues. For example, the blues and country evolved in exactly the same environment--  i.e. the Mississippi Delta, West Texas, Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans, to name a few.  But for some reason, the music of Elvis must be regarded as different from Chuck Berry even when both artists embrace the same regional and artistic roots.

Maybe Herbie's success will make a few a more people think about the absurdity of these genre designations. After all, it is the clash of America's various cultural heritage that give us such a rich and varied musical landscape.

Herbie certainly inherited the mantle of Art Tatum and Bud Powell, but his world is so much bigger than that. My hope is that as Americans our ability to appreciate our enormous musical choices will continue to expand. Don't forget, Satchmo, Johnny Cash, the Duke and Frank Sinatra are watching ... and listening!

p.s.: Herbie collaborated with me on a song for my audio book "On the Shoulders of Giants." We took an old song from the 1930s, entitled "Stompin' at the Savoy," and Herbie remade it into a modern jazz song. will.i.am from the blackeyed peas sang vocals with Nikki Yanofksy.

Click here to listen to the song: "Stompin' at the Savoy"

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.kareemabduljabbar.com/blog-mt/mt-tb.fcgi/379

Comments

I want a bald cap like that one.

Awesome blog - to echo the commenter on the last post, it's exciting just to think that you are reading my simple reply. As a long time watcher of politics and a short time watcher of the Lakers, I must say that you rock!
Thanks for being such a positive force in a time sorely in need of positivity. I'll be reading you,
-njt

I like caine

Have to confess, it was fun to see you two old lions in the recent Obama video. Look fwd to seeing you out on the stump more this year.

(I'd love to see some kind of jazz festival/fundraiser/teach-in for Obama this summer. A small-d democratic celebration of Jazz would be a perfect fit for what so many of us hope will be an enduring progressive political alignment this fall.)

Happy blogging,

Kareem,
I've been waiting for this ever since I heard about it well over a year ago. I even made inquiries on the Times' Lakers blog at the time but didn't get any response. I thought there was going to be a feature film on the subject. What happened to it?

I used to see you around UCLA (I arrived in 63) but you sure as hell didn't see me! An English major, I was and still am a jazz pianist (living in Paris since the 70s -- a city with a history of love for black American musicians). I may be white, but I too stand on the shoulders of those same giants. They are all my heroes.

I think it was a year before your time, but Trane's quartet came to UCLA and played in Royce Hall on Nov. 23, 1963, the day after the Kennedy assassination. Probably the most memorable moment of my four years at UCLA (I graduated cum laude and went to Oxford after that). My question to you, who are such a vital part of the Lakers, past and present. I can't help associating Kobe with Trane (because of his intensity) and Lamar with Sonny (maybe because of his looks). Your man Drew could very well be Herbie or Tony Williams (who lied about his age when first playing with Miles just to get into the club). What say you?

Bebop and beyond! Right on. Obama's got to make it. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

Kareem,

You are an inspiration.

Laker Seth

Kareem,
I've been waiting for this ever since I heard about it well over a year ago. I even made inquiries on the Times' Lakers blog at the time but didn't get any response. I thought there was going to be a feature film on the subject. What happened to it?

I used to see you around UCLA (I arrived in 63) but you sure as hell didn't see me! An English major, I was and still am a jazz pianist (living in Paris since the 70s -- a city with a history of love for black American musicians). I may be white, but I too stand on the shoulders of those same giants. They are all my heroes.

I think it was a year before your time, but Trane's quartet came to UCLA and played in Royce Hall on Nov. 23, 1963, the day after the Kennedy assassination. Probably the most memorable moment of my four years at UCLA (I graduated cum laude and went to Oxford after that). My question to you, who are such a vital part of the Lakers, past and present. I can't help associating Kobe with Trane (because of his intensity) and Lamar with Sonny (maybe because of his looks). Your man Drew could very well be Herbie or Tony Williams (who lied about his age when first playing with Miles just to get into the club). What say you?

Bebop and beyond! Right on. Obama's got to make it. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

Kareem I really enjoyed your commentary regarding the unfortunate biases between the likes of black and white artists that compose and perform music that is rooted from the same region. In the past I had always harshly criticized Elvis Presley for being a charlatan or a thief of the original R&B artists such as Chuck Berry, among others. Elvis can be rightfully credited for introducing Rhythm and Blues to a mass audience. I just think that it is unfortunate that many people are unaware of the originators of the style.

Kareem,
Where do you see Jazz ending up in 50 years? Will it ever really die?

Kareem, do you remember "Stompin' ON the Savoy" by the King Kong Trio, vocal by Godzilla?...It was literally a smash in the early 60's.

I've always been an admirer of KAJ for the type of man he's been on and off the court.

It's not what you do for a living, it's what you live to do that sets people apart. What KAJ is doing now that's he's been out of b-ball definitely shows that he is someone who is worthy of admiration.

Thanks for mentioning Ron Carter, the anchor of the greatest of the Miles Davis bands, and a brilliant leader in his own right. I saw him play at the old Iridium Lounge one night in 2001, sitting alone at a table right at foot of the stage, close enough for the pianist to have splashed perspiration on me. (But of course, he was far too cool to perspire.) Carter was playing a lot of his Latin-inflected stuff that night, but it wasn't all about rhythm and heat. It was often meditative, quite beautiful. Carter stood like a colossus at center stage, eyes closed, almost motionless, deep in concentration.I was so moved that I when I happened upon him at the door that night as I was leaving the club, I shook his hand, and I said something I don't believe I've ever said to another man before or since.

"Thank Mr. Carter," I said, "You're beautiful."

The last few Grammy's have been performances based on collaborations and tributes to classic artist's.

With the overwhelmingly awful state of Pop music, hopefully the kids will: research the artist's, actually purchase music, look into supporting Artist's by watching their live shows.

I'm glad Herbie and Joni won "Album of the year."

The Times is lucky to have as a blogger someone so thoughtful and interesting.

Respect to you, Kareem. You are bookmarked sir!

Great article, Kareem. I am so glad the Times has given you a chance to express yourself. I know I sound like everyone else, but you and showtime made me a fan of the 'real' beautiful game. Please keep up the good work!

Dear Kareem,

What a pleasure it is to discover this blog. As a longtime admirer of yours, a fellow UCLA grad, and an avid reader of your books, I am thrilled to have a place to go check in with you online.

I'm a professional drummer and I had the great fortune of playing with Herbie Hancock some years back; he sat in for a whole set with a trio I was playing with at a gig in Santa Monica. The most remarkable thing was how easily he made me play my very best - his command of his instrument, the conviction of his ideas, and his effortless mastery just ignited the rest of us on the bandstand. Another day at the office for Herbie, but a memory I've warmed to for years.

It was wonderful to see him earn Album of the Year in what was otherwise another Grammy telecast full of superficiality over substance. Jazz is still criminally undervalued and misunderstood in this country, and the media spin that somehow Herbie's award was a "conservative" or "safe" pick just boggles my mind. As Herbie himself wryly noted, he's played music that has ventured further out than any of the other nominees have even imagined!

I have always admired Herbie's defiance of facile categorization, and I can't imagine a world without his music. Thank you, Kareem, for the soulful tribute.

Dear Kareem,

What a pleasure it is to discover this blog. As a longtime admirer, a fellow UCLA grad, and an avid reader of your books, it's wonderful to have a place to check in with you online.

I'm a professional drummer, and I had the great fortune of playing with Herbie Hancock some years back; he sat in for a whole set with a trio I was playing with at a gig in Santa Monica. The most amazing thing was how easily he was able to make me play my very best - his command of his instrument, the conviction of his ideas, and his effortless mastery just ignited the bandstand. Another day at the office for Herbie, but a memory I've warmed to for years.

I was thrilled to see Herbie win Album of the Year in what was otherwise another Grammy telecast filled with superficiality over substance. Jazz is so criminally undervalued and misunderstood in this country, and it boggles my mind to read the media spin that Herbie's honor was somehow the "conservative" or "safe" choice - as Herbie himself wryly noted, he's been playing music for years that ventures further out than any of the other nominees can even imagine!

I've always admired Herbie's defiance of facile musical categorization, and I can't imagine a world without his music. Thank you, Kareem, for the soulful tribute.

Really enjoy your blog - we have some common interests. I played in the Brooklyn CYO leagues in the late 50s - early 60s, and saw Miles at a Village Vanguard matinee while i was still in high school at Brooklyn Prep. Saw John Lee Hooker and Dylan too.

We have some differences too, beyond the uninteresting difference in skin color. We're both NY to LA guys, only I went to USC.

Both cities are proud of you.

posted by: jc

Kareem,

Great blog! Jazz, ball, politics and Kareem Abdul-Jabber = good times.

I also wanted to say that Giant Steps was a really powerful and positive influence on me as a young teenager. It made me so much more sensitive to the experiences of "other" people than I otherwise might have been. Thank you for giving this privileged white boy some much needed perspective.

Good luck with your blog and

Obama 08!

jodial- AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!

Kareem, I just want to congratulate you on your books. I look forward to reading your latest one and just like the others I know it will be a good read. Congratulations are also in order for Herbie. He finally gets the wider recogniton he so deserves. I remember, back in the seventies at the Village Vanguard, talking to the drummer Billy Hart , and the conversation drifted to Herbie. Billy mentioned how brilliant Herbie was and I totally agreed with him as I do now. I've been listening to this cat since the sixties and he never fails to deliver. A true genious!

Great post on Herbie and music. I have been reading with disgust as the music pundits dismissed his win as simply one of "career achievement," as if this opus was not worthy of the award.

I have a very fond memory of you as a little kid at the LA Sports Arena playing a pre-season game. You were up in the stands watching the first of a double-header, and I approached you to say hello. I asked you how many points you were going to score that evening, and you asked me what did I think. I said 33, and you gave a little laugh and said that might be a little too much. However, you scored 36 for the Bucks that night. A hero was born.

Great work with Bynum. The Laker legacy of great Big Men continues.

Twenty-five years ago Herbie Hancock had another genre buster effort with "Rockit" from the groundbreaking "Future Shock" album. I had the pleasure of hosting an in-store record signing in San Francisco at the Tower Records store on Columbus and Bay Streets, where I was the operations mangager of the store. In those calcified days we had Herbie's records all over the place from the jazz aisles through the soul, pop and rock racks. He wondered at that time why there were so many different classifications, which only seemed to segregate music and shoppers from one another. Ultimately he was right to criticize the phony delineations that really serve only to set up mental walls hindering exploration of music. Thanks Kareem and Herbie for all you both do to advance culture in America!

TJ Simmers can put down his crayons now.

Dear Kareem,

I am so happy that over the years you found your voice, and can be a teacher of music, history and life. How wonderful!

My father, a white physician born in LA was in love with
jazz--Duke Ellington, Nat Cole and his trio, Benny Goodman--whose version of stompin at the savoy I most remember--and Ella. I enoyed your more alive and down home version.

I remember you as a fellow Bruin walking up the incline toward Royce Hall head bowed down-- appearing to me as a somewhat shy introspective young person--in some ways not unlike me except for your sports skills and celebrity.

May you continue peacefully along your path all the rest of your days.

Thank you,

David S

Kareem,

As a musician and an ethnomusicologist with a degree from UCLA, I personally believe that historically and globally, African-American culture has been the most successfully innovative creative musical culture the world has ever seen. It is AMAZING the diversity and quantity of musical styles that have been generated by African-American culture over the last two hundred years. It is unprecedented.

This much said, I feel that creatively-speaking, African-American music has taken a TREMENDOUS step backwards with the popularization of Hip-Hop.

Yes, in terms of lyrical phrasing Hip-Hop is truly innovative. However, generally speaking, in terms of content and musical complexity, it is light years behind Soul, Funk, Blues, and Jazz.

How do you explain how a culture which created arguably the most sublime music in the history of the world (Jazz) has become so immersed in a musical culture which in its most popular forms is stunted creatively and extols a lifestyle of violence and misogyny?

Kareem , What a great city we have to have someone of your stature and knowledge grace our paper on a regular basis . You have always been my favorite Laker and I had the incredible experience of being employed as a ball boy for the 1985 season ( best team in NBA history by the way). Your introspective reserved nature has always been misunderstood in the media , let us thank God we dont believe everything we read in the media . You are a true legend in this town and it will be a pleasure reading your blog

K,
Thank you , thank you, thank you! I can tell you are a good friend and also a very knowledgable jazz fan. Two of my hero(s) Herbie and Ron Carter. Wow! I am not suprised at the victory since Herbie is an active Buddhist. He mentioned in his acceptance speech "making the impossible possible". That a true Buddhist statement and demonstrates the determination of a lion. A lion does not sit there and wait for things to happen. The lion makes things happen and rules the jungle. So his win is not a "steal" it is a victory for those of us in this culture that are looking to "raise the bar" and expand our minds.
Tbone Hamilton
Bassist
Fellow Buddhist
Human Being

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Captain Kareem

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships. Kareem was the NBA's MVP six times, a 19-time all-star and set the NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that may never be broken.

Since retiring as a player in 1989, Kareem has balanced his love of basketball with his love of history. In 2002 he led a USBL team, the Oklahoma Storm, to a championship. Since 2005, he has been the special assistant coach for the Lakers, working with Andrew Bynum.

In 2008 he was chosen The Greatest Player in College Basketball History.

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes"; "A Season on the Reservation," which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."

His audio adaptation, "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Audio & Musical Journey through the Harlem Renaissance," is a four-volume compilation read by Bob Costas, Avery Brooks, Jesse L. Martin, and Stanley Crouch, and features private and fascinating conversations with dozens of icons, including Coach John Wooden, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones and Billy Crystal. He has also been written to L.A. Times, under the Sports section.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been appearing on various radio stations and TV shows, as well as the most relevant websites talking about his life and his new audio book, On the Shoulders of Giants.

All images are property of www.iconomy.com unless otherwise stated. All info copyrighted and owned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not replicated without permission.

RSS Feeds

Kareem_READ The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the popular Celebrity READ poster series. The Celebrity READ poster campaign is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to get a good education, improve their reading skills, and to read for sheer enjoyment.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is the 2008 Honorary Chair Library Card Sign-up Month, which takes place in September. He will also appear at the American Library’s National Convention on June 28th and 29th at the Long Beach Convention Center to sign his poster.

To purchase Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's poster and to view the entire line of Celebrity READ Posters, please click here. now!

Kareem_jersey Join the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Fan Club
and win a chance to receive a prize from my official store !

Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com!

ESPN names Kareem The Greatest Player In College Basketball History

Check the latest about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Go to KareemAbdulJabbar.com for more news.


Add to My Yahoo!