50 years, 14 Grammy Awards, a lifetime of influence and a commanding presence still within the music industry — Herbie Hancock performed in Brooklyn for the first time in half a century Thursday night. Blessed to be on hand, the Okayplayer team were there to witness greatness be joined by greatness in the form of Jamie Lidell, Robert Glasper, The Experiment and The Royal Pharaohs.
Last night marked the final benefit concert of the 2016 BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. In a partnership between This Is Our Music and LPR, Kings County was treated to an once-in-a-lifetime experience as the influential jazz, R&B, funk and all-around music legend, Herbie Hancock, brought his impressive bag of sounds for earhole consumption at the Bandshell inside Prospect Park.
Before it got to the headlining act, we first had to brave the monsoon rain, as torrential downpour threatened to cancel the event altogether. As temperatures hit above 90 degrees, the rain did help to cool things off, even if it brought out the mosquitoes and annoyed concertgoers who spent up to $90 to get a ticket to this very exclusive occasion. Once the doors opened and we got past security, our favorite Englishman, Jamie Lidell, promptly took that stage to perform a few instrumentals to warm the crowd up. Upon showing love to J. Dilla, Jamie Lidell and The Royal Pharaohs jumped in to his 2006 cut, “Multiply,” which was followed up later with his 2008 standout record, “Another Day“.
This marked Jamie Lidell’s only North American date of performance, so it was a pleasure to be able to see him live. His new album, Building A Beginning, which he also performed in front of the Brooklyn / Park Slope audience last night, is slated for release October 14 via Jajulin Records. Another standout effort from his performance was from that upcoming album, a song titled, “Walk Right Back,” which if you haven’t heard yet then please click here to dive in and enjoy.
To keep on schedule, after the stagehands secured the changes on the scene, Grammy Award-winning electronic jazz quartet, The Robert Glasper Experiment, took to the stage. Where I was at, which was under a tent after the rain, had quite a few hardcore fans. I sat next to a couple who had what seemed like tons of unopened wax who were hoping for an opportunity to get it signed by Herbie and Robert. Too bad they didn’t check the socials (follow me @KevitoClark) to find out that it may have been a possibility (it happened with Anderson .Paak at our Roots Picnic in Philly). Either way, the architect behind Black Radio and the most recently released single, “Find You,” was joined by his brothers-in-arms for an abbreviated, yet really entertaining set.
Hitting the strides really quickly, the Experiment jumped into “Big Girl Body,” then transitioned into “Let It Ride,” which made the hardcore stans jump up onto the chairs and tables underneath the tent to get a better look at their musical hero. Buoyed by their easy-listening, harmonically rigorous compositions, the Experiment served as the bridge between laid back grooves and righteous funk. In fact, it was their third act in their performance that made everyone jump out of their seat and lose their cool. While playing a wave in the form of Bilal‘s “Reminisce” from 1st Born Second, people were feeling the Dilla vibes when Bilal actually stepped out from backstage to perform his hit single.
Pandemonium struck. It doubled over into sheer hype when Common came out to freestyle alongside his friend and fellow musicians. I might be a bit worn out from hearing Brother Com rap off the top (I would’ve loved to hear his actual verse) — the crowd wasn’t bothered one bit, and served as the red carpet for what would become the night’s golden moment. Described by Miles Davis as “the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk,” Herbie Hancock still has yet to have someone elevate a stage like he does in over 50 years. Joined by bassist James Genus, drummer Trevor Lawrence Jr., guitarist Lionel Loueke and Terrace Martin, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! turned into a historic moment in the making.
As they kicked off things with “Actual Proof,” the legendary pianist and composer took time to introduce Brooklyn to his players. A significant pop was expressed by Brooklyn who knew just who was handling keyboard and saxophone duties for the night. Terrace Martin, one of the main brains behind To Pimp A Butterfly, played alongside one of his mentors and looked like he enjoyed every last minute of it (as you can see in the slideshow above). The former member of the Miles Davis Quintet knew how to keep the crowd in the palm of his hands. From “Watermelon Man” to “Come Running To Me” to one of my personal favorites, “Cantaloupe Island,” Herbie and his band of funkateers upped it with the dynamic performance of “Chameleon“.
It was a beautifully diverse energy last night at the Bandshell. But if you weren’t able to make it, and were interested in seeing just how this impressive moment came to life — please check out our slideshow above and share your comments in the comments below.