Review by Hayley Clark with photography by Bimal Tailor.

From composer, band leader and also an actor it was with great pleasure EFG London Jazz Festival announced American pianist Herbie Hancock to play the distinguished Barbican Centre in London, packed by an incredible talent of musicians the crowd were wowed as he appeared on stage for a two night residency.

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The previously silent crowd clapped vigorously as the 77 year old took to the stage, dressed smartly all in black with a beaming grin that lit up the cool blue lights of the stage “Thank you London” he coolly purred as a girl in the audience shouted raucously “We love you Herbie” throwing him slightly off thought as he quipped quickly “I love London too?” leaving the crowd chuckling.

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As the jazz legend took to the keys a buzzing of calmness filled the room as he burst into ‘Come Running To Me’ and gave an insight into the background of the track ‘Actual Proof’. The former Miles Davis Quartet member left the audience toe-tapping and bobbing their heads to the set list.  Guitarist James Genus of Saturday Night Live fame and drummer Trevor Lawrence held their own amazing talent sharing the limelight with Herbie and him acknowledging solo pieces for them. However it was saxophonist and keyboardist Terrace Martin that got the crowd going with cheers from the  balcony, the producer who has worked with Kendrick Lamar shared vocal duties with the leading man to complete the energetic all star band.

The distinguished sound of Herbie’s use of vocoders that has influenced so many artists since echoed around the room creating a electrifying groove and even though they stayed seated for the show joyous looks filled the audience with ‘Butterfly’, ‘Cantaloupe Island’ and ‘Secret Source’ sounding funky as hell live.

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Herbie and Terrace bounced off each other though the night in a impeccable relationship and when Herbie reclined from behind his Korg set up you could see the sparks flying as if Terrace was chosen both as an amazing artist but also for the American legend to mentor. Throughout the two hour set James Genus body rocked as if he was overcome and possessed by the music, a look of passion on his face as he strummed and fretted creating towards the mysterious funk sound.

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As the evening closed and a standing ovation formed the man who once declared “The thing that we possess, that machines don’t, is the ability to exhibit wisdom” showed exactly why he is such a big influence on others careers brandishing a shining white keytair he encouraged the audience to participate in a jam session with pops and oohs and growls as he played out the notes in an energetic second wind.

As Trevor banged the drums with passion and the lights fell down on the stage an unexpected finale from Herbie pogoing with his keytair stage centre showing he is still young at heart leaving the audience both young and old ready for another jazz fix.

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