posted by Robert J. Carmack with photos by Chuck Koton
August 29 is a very lively day for many and jazz is no stranger, as it’s the birthdate of three prominent saxophonists, Charlie Parker, Bobby Watson and multi-reeds man,Bennie Maupin. The Blue Whale jazz club of Los Angeles was rocking for two nights as Bennie Maupin and his working band (Derek Oles-bass and Munyungo Jackson-percussion) performed outstandingly on both Friday the 28th and 29th,with Saturday night, August 29 being the celebratory night with special invited guests to perform as well, including very special guest Ms. Patrice Rushen.
it was 2 nights at the Blue Whale celebrating Bennie’s 75th birthday…munyungo and Darek Oles(bass) have played with him for years, however, this weekend Bennie added young Gene Coye(drums)Josh Johnson(alto sax) an alumnus from the Monk Institute; Jeff Parker(guitar)
Patrice killed as did everyone..he closed with the hit funk tune from Headhunters.. Chameleon.
Its the birthday of the very man who once thought he would never reach the the greatness of an Oscar Peterson or a Thelonius Monk. Now 75,looking 40ish is the jazz icon who has accomplished every possible music, presidential and international recognition & Lifetime Achievement Award there is.
For me, It began in 1964, I was 14 and studying saxophone in junior high and played in a youth Jazz big band sponsored by the late great Gerald Wilson in Los Angeles. MY DAD WAS STILL MY MAIN SOURCE FOR JAZZ ALBUMS. He brought home a Blue Note album that was all blue,it had a weird name on it” Empyrean Isles” by Herbie Hancock featuring a song I could not stop playing over and over, and over again.
Cantaloupe Island was quite dominant on radio, I heard it everywhere, in the barber shops,cafe’s on Jukeboxes and car radios and jazz stations . It had an infectious beat and groove to it that swung with a new hipness , just enough commercial to attract AM radio and FM radio stations,But enough of the old school bop playing around that groove that spoke volumes of this new artist’s approach to composition and improvisation.
I’d been a fan of H.H. since that first album bought by my dad, but,then I was beginning to purchase my own some 9 months later.That one album turned me on to all the fellow side-men and their careers too. I am most proud that a man of his standing is the Ambassador at Large for Jazz . On the International stage, its much needed, as we in the jazz community know, its not getting its due on the american front. we’re bickering over what is Jazz, what to call it, Europeans are claiming they really started jazz and deserve to proclaim its roots.(Lol) Herbie also has recently come on-board as professor of music at UCLA , in addition, both he and long-time collaborator,Wayne Shorter are active board members of the Thelonius Monk Institute located on campus at University of Los Angeles. I look forward to whatever comes next for Herbie Hancock, even if its just a candle blowing event. Born April 12 1940 , in Chicago ,Illinois. HAPPY BORN-DAY HERBIE!!