Main | Going Back While Moving Forward »

12/30/2009

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Reid Davis

Charlie, thanks for the generous response (and insider info!), and my apologies for taking so long to get back. (I neglected to bookmark this blog the first time, an oversight I am now remedying.)

OK, that makes perfect sense, and basically squares with my understanding of that era. And I'm not intending to be dismissive of Herbie's contributions to those records. In particular, the piano lines on "TFS" are just amazing, and an amazing contrast from an arrangement perspective -- this robotic rhythm track with this fiercely alive two-fisted piano comp/solo (it's a little bit of both) on top of it. One of my favorite moments.

Interesting commentary on jazz risk-taking vs. tradition and standard-worship. My opinion is that fusion soured a lot of folks on exploration and innovation. For every "Bitches Brew" there were 50 flaccid jazz-rock outings. (And the avant-garde was probably a culprit as well -- the same ratio holds for "The Shape Of Jazz To Come" vs. countless unlistenable albums of pure skronk.)

Lately I find myself appreciating both innovators (Robert Glasper's "Double Booked" and people like Béla Fleck) and tradition-upholders (Cyrus Chestnut, Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau), and the lines between them aren't always clear (witness Chestnut's album of Elvis interpretations, and Mehldau's Radiohead and Bjork covers.)

Instrumental jazz will never be mass-appeal music anymore (and you could probably argue that the days of mass-appeal music, period, are numbered at this point) but there's still plenty of life in it.

As for Paste, I'm about as far away from the levers of power there as I've ever been (left full-time employment there two years ago to freelance), but if ever there were a call for Herbie Hancock interview, I would do my best to make myself first in line. ;-)

Craig

Glad you're doing this, Charlie. Love your conclusion: "A good producer knows how to bring the peace and stir the chaos." So it's NOT just about more cowbell?

Hi to Andi for Megan and me.

Charlie Peacock

Hey Jimmy happy birthday to you! We are overdue for our yearly Margot couples meal. Let's make it happen in January. You need several blogs for all your talents: The Painter, The Photographer, The Guitarist etc. One of The Record Producer blogs will have to mention the Steve Soles/Vector session, all that used 2" tape, and comping takes between reels. Peace and love.

jimmy

Looks to be a really good idea Chuck! Have fun and be safe! Happy New Year dear friend!

Charlie Peacock

Craig, damning received with a wink and a smile. Set your alarm clock!

craig

awesome.glad your doing this.
damn you for making me add ANOTHER rss feed to my list. Now i'll have to get up even earlier.

Charlie Peacock

Matt,

Thanks for dropping by. I'm looking forward to this new adventure. And yes, hopefully there will be some substantive take-away for producer-engineers like yourself. Hope to see you sometime. Peace to you.

Charlie Peacock

Reid,

Future Shock was literally the Rockit behind the 6th (at least) major stage in Herbie's already stellar career. I'm counting the famous Miles quintet, solo jazz albums, the electric Miles era, the funk Headhunters era, the VSOP era introducing Wynton to the world, and then the Material/Bill Laswell era. Allow me to re-tool this idea a bit that Future Shock "was largely a Bill Laswell record that Herbie played on." First clarification is that if anything, Future Shock was a Material record, of which Laswell was a bandmate/co-producer with Michael Beinhorn. Secondly, like Miles Davis, Herbie's musical DNA is so potent that no matter who he collaborates with, or to what degree, his artistic voice rides above the production with an original, recognizable identity. This sort of essence, as you know, is what true artistry is all about. Everyone we admire has it, including Herbie. That said, did Laswell and others construct the tracks for the trio of records of that era, ending in Perfect Machine? Absolutely. This was confirmed to me when I worked with Laswell engineer Robert Musso in NYC at Quad Studios. I was doing a mix but the Laswell crew was setup in the tracking room. Had Herbie been there? I asked. No, Robert explained, he doesn't come into the process until much later (or something to that effect). In short, it was a collaborative project led by Laswell presenting a great improvisational artist in a new context (think much of Miles Davis' career - Herbie was always a good student). This last note is also connected to why "nothing else in the catalog sounded like Future Shock." My speculation is that this is very intentional on Herbie's part and deeply connected to his tutelage under Miles and personal artistic vision. Before the Young Lions/Wynton era, reinvention, trailblazing, and risk were the lifeblood of jazz innovation. People of Herbie's generation did not stop to ask if there was a canon to be admired, but instead kept dreaming of new places to take collaborative/improvisational music. So, when can we interview Herbie for PASTE?

Reid Davis

OK, this is a total tangent, but since you mention Herbie as a record producer, what's your take on "Future Shock?" My understanding is that it was largely a Bill Laswell record that Herbie played on -- yes, a sideman role for the artist whose name is on the record. That's reinforced by interviews with Laswell that Herbie has done nothing to refute.

I maintain such a fascination with that record because it was basically my introduction to Herbie (yes, thank you "Rockit" and MTV) -- I eventually went back to "Empyrean Isles" and "Head Hunters" etc. and wondered why nothing else in the catalog sounded like "Future Shock." If Laswell is right, it explains a lot.

Matt Kees

Charlie...
thank you for sharing your heart, your experience, and your wisdom... please share more stories and insights. I am a producer, engineer looking to grow and improve my 'producer' chops.

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