Very few contemporary jazz musicians have earned as much respect as Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. What has separated these two giants—both Miles Davis band alums—from the pack for the past 40 or so years is a shared desire to pay homage to their influences by blazing new creative trails for themselves and others.
Composer/keyboardist Hancock has been at the forefront of nearly every breakthrough in acoustic and electronic jazz since the early '60s. His 1965 masterpiece, Maiden Voyage, offers a case study in lyrical jazz and experimental hard bop. His restless creative spirit has only blossomed over time with 2005's Possibilities, utilizing some unlikely collaborators—including Paul Simon, Jonny Lang, Angelique Kidjo, Paula Cole and Annie Lennox, among others—to push pop-music boundaries even further.
Saxman/composer Shorter, who has played on the Hancock albums Gershwin's World and Future 2 Future, had to overcome the very large shadow cast by his mentor, the great John Coltrane. Over time, Shorter developed his own style on tenor and soprano saxophones in genres such as freeform jazz, funk, fusion and hard bop. Whether as a solo artist or working with Miles, Weather Report and/or Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Shorter's risk-tasking has been rewarded with a prolific recording and touring career.
Hancock and Shorter were inspired to share the same stage this weekend by a shared vision of the world. They both perform at a benefit performance for student scholarships at Soka University's second-annual Peace Gala, Celebrating a Vision of Peace. It may not be in fashion nowadays, but really, what could be timelier than supporting the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life?
Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter perform at Soka University, 1 University Dr., Aliso Viejo, (949) 480-4072; www.soka.edu/gala. Sat., 6 p.m. $250 (includes dinner and wine). All ages.
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