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Herbie Fully Loaded: Herbie Hancock stupefies Orpheum Theater

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Herbie Fully Loaded: Herbie Hancock stupefies Orpheum Theater

Courtesy of Larry Johnson

Courtesy of Larry Johnson

Courtesy of Larry Johnson

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Most likely, if a UFO landed in the middle of the Orpheum Theater during Herbie Hancock’s Sunday night performance, no one in the audience would notice. The jazz legend, along with a stunning ensemble of musicians, hypnotized listeners with a masterful two-hour concert.

Throughout the 120 minutes of uninterrupted jazz, the audience was captivated, waiting to see what Hancock would do next as the musicians engaged in intense musical conversation on stage.

Beyond the intensity and hypnosis of the performance, a UFO landing would not alarm those in attendance on account of Hancock’s otherworldly sound. Using a number of keyboards and synthesizers along with a keytar and a voice-changing vocoder, Hancock transported listeners outside the realm of traditional jazz with his electronic fusion.

His ensemble featured an impressive line-up of seasoned performers.

Vinnie Colaiuta energetically headed the drumset, looking excited to be on playing with Hancock. Colaiuta is a studio drummer who has been featured on more than 100 albums and has played with legends including Billy Joel, Jeff Beck, Brian Wilson and Bill Evans.

Like Colaiuta, James Genus, the bass player, was having the time of his life on stage. Genus spends his Saturday nights in New York playing bass in the Saturday Night Live band. He has also toured with Daft Punk, Branford Marsalis and Ravi Coltrane.

Terrace Martin played saxophone and secondary keyboard. He is also a prominent record producer, who has recorded artists including Snoop Dogg, Travis Scott and Stevie Wonder. Martin was even nominated for a Grammy for producing Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” The 38-year-old is an immense talent and spent the night ripping on saxophone solos—without ever overpowering Hancock.

Upstaging this 77-year-old with classical piano training is impossible, yet Hancock seemed honored to share the stage with his fellow musicians. Each instrumentalist took solos, basking in the glory of one another’s talent, sharing the stage equally and allowing their instruments to converse.

The only interruption to the music was the introduction of each ensemble member by Hancock, who gushed over their accomplishments and beamed with pride. It takes no stretch of the imagination to see that Hancock loves what he does and has fun with the musicians he selects to join him on stage.

After multiple standing ovations throughout the night, it was clear the crowd would not let Hancock leave without an encore. The group came back with Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island,” appearing grateful that the night was not over yet.

Revisiting classics and jamming out for prolonged improv sessions, Hancock gave the people what they wanted. There was a palpable atmosphere of awe and magnetism as an enthused audience watched a true jazz luminary in his element.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Herbie Fully Loaded: Herbie Hancock stupefies Orpheum Theater