Jazz legend Herbie Hancock honored his best friend the iconic Wayne Shorter at the Hollywood Bowl on August 23rd with an all-star tribute with a number of the greatest Jazz artists of the last 6+ decades. Hancock and Shorter first met in 1962 through a recording session for Donald Byrd. They would be hired by Miles Davis to play in his Second Great Quintet. Shorter passed away on March 2nd, 2023 and the tribute took place just two days before what would’ve been his 90th birthday. Shorter was also a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and was a co-founder of Weather Report. Shorter won 12 Grammys and had over 20 releases as a band leader. Hancock came out along with his and Shorter’s grandson’s to speak and announce the first set of performers. The revolving stage also used for the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival (formerly Playboy) had broken down and had to be manually pushed between performances.
Bassist Esperanza Spalding, drummer Teri Lyne Carrington, pianist Leo Genovese and Kamasi Washington gave the first performance of the night. Shorter’s last Grammy win was for Best Improvised Jazz Solo with Genovese for “Endangered Species.” Shorter and Carrington began playing together in the 80’s. Shorter and Spalding worked together in 2018 following his retirement from touring on Iphigenia, an operatic production based on Greek Mythology. For Washington, Shorter was a big influence on him from the start of his career. Following would be Shorter’s quintet of the last 20 years, pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brian Blade, bassist John Patitucci along with saxophonist Chris Potter.
The first set Hancock performed in would be the Weather Report one which was the third set of the show. Hancock performed a few Weather Report classics with bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, Weather Report percussionist/drummer Alex Acuna (1975-1978), saxophonist Terence Blanchard, Potter, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and Julian Pollack on keys.
The final set of the first half began with Hanock announcing a surprise guest that was Shorter’s best friend and it was none other than the great Joni Mitchell. Joni, known for being of the all time singer-songwriter greats, also had a Jazz phase which began in the mid 70’s. Joni gave her last full performance in 2000 and released her last album of new material in 2007. Since Joni received the 2022 Musicares Person Of the Year Award, she had four one-off performances including a set at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival and most recently at the Gorge Amphitheater in WA. In 2011 Hancock honored Joni’s Jazz music at the Hollywood bowl which included a performance by Shorter. Joni, Hancock, Blade, Patituchi, and Louke performed her iconic song “The Circle Game.”
Following the intermission there would be more unforgettable performances.
The first set of the second half began with music Shorter and Milton Nascimento recorded together and was performed by Hancock, Blade, Spalding, Potter, and Loueke. Next up was Carlos and Cindy Blackman Santana.
Shorter and Santana recorded a live album at Montreux in 1988 and played at the Hollywood Bowl together with Hancock, Blackman Santana, and Miller in 2016. Santana’s last Bowl performance was in 2019 for his own show. The Santanas performed with Hancock, Miller, and Washington. With just two sets left there were still a few legends to come. For Shorter’s career with Miles Davis, “Delores” and “Pinocchio” were performed by Hancock, bass legend Ron Carter who recently celebrated his 85th birthday with a special show in NYC, drum legend Jack DeJohnette, Blanchard, Potter, Washington, and saxophonist Devin Daniels. Carter, Hancock, Shorter, and Tony Williams were all a part of Davis’ band. DeJohnette, Shorter, Chick Corea, and Dave Holland all had performed and recorded with Davis together.
The finale was Shorter’s “Footprints” from recorded in 1966 and has become a Jazz Standard. The last group of performers were Hancock, Carter, DeJohnette, Blanchard, Potter, Washington, Daniels, Carrington, Patituchi, and Acuna. Following the last performance almost all performers including Joni came out for the crowd bow.
- Collaborations segment- Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leo Genovese, Kamasi Washington
- Wayne Quartet segment: Witch Hunt, Joy Rider- Danilo Perez, Brian Blade, John Patitucci, Chris Potter
- Weather Report segment: Palladium, A Remark You Made, Birdland- Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock, Cindy Blackman Santana, Alex Acuna, Terence Blanchard, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, Julian Pollack
- Joni Mitchell segment: The Circle Game- Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Brian Blade, John Patituchi, Lionel Loueke
- Milton Nascimento segment- Herbie Hancock, Brian Blade, Esperanza Spalding, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke
- Carlos & Cindy Santana segment: Sanctuary, All Blues- Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Kamasi Washington
- Miles Davis segment: Delores, Pinocchio- Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Terence Blanchard, Chris Potter, Kamasi Washington, Devin Daniels
- Finale: Footprints- Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Terence Blanchard, Chris Potter, Kamasi Washington, Kamasi Washington, Devin Daniels, Terri Lyne Carrington, John Patituchi, Alex Acuna
Words and photos by Alex Kluft