A fall concert season that will see several jazz icons performing in Buffalo in the coming weeks kicks off Wednesday with the arrival of Herbie Hancock at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts Mainstage Theatre.
Hancock, one of the greatest living pianists in jazz, has been pushing the envelope and setting the high watermark for the music’s ability to incorporate disparate modern influences since he signed with Blue Note records as a bandleader at the tender age of 20. By 23, Hancock was handpicked by Miles Davis to be a member of the revered trumpeter’s quintet. Hancock helped the quintet set the standard for post-bop in the 1960s, through consistently fiery and inventive live performances, and the iconic studio albums “ESP,” “Sorcerer” and “Nefertiti.”
If that was all he ever did, Hancock’s place at the head of the class in the history of groundbreaking jazz would be forever assured. But Hancock went further, offering the blueprint for jazz-funk fusion in the ‘70s and paving the way for hip-hop and electronic dance music with his synth-based ‘80s recordings.
Hancock remains a vital compositional and performance force today, and his concerts routinely draw from all aspects of his storied career. For Wednesday’s concert, Hancock fronts a quartet with fellow virtuosos Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, James Genus on bass and Lionel Loueke on guitar. Tickets range from $27.50 to $77.50 (box office, Tickets.com).
– Jeff Miers