Ned Heckling The Band – Milestones and Herbie Hancock

Wow, number 10 – who would have thought I could bust out 10 consecutive columns and still have something to say?

Certainly not me.

Regardless, here we are, and as usual I’m never short of things to complain about. Since today is the mega-important milestone that your eyes, brain and soul enjoy so much, as they are repeatedly defiled by my words, I thought I’d take time out and write a little piece on just that: milestones.

But first, I have to get something off my chest. I feel that this is a particularly appropriate time to rant about this; what I want to complain about is the music festival known as Parklife, occurring this past Sunday October 4. Now, I’m not against music festivals, in fact – I love them. I remember my first one, the 2004 Big Day Out. I was 14 and filled with anticipatory nerves. I remember the day well, not surprisingly as I was fortunate enough to witness live sets by bands including The Butterfly Effect, Jet, The Darkness, The Datsuns, Black Eyed Peas (back then they were okay…), Kings Of Leon, Muse, The Mars Volta, The Dandy Warhols, The Strokes, and of course Metallica. Since that day I have attended every Big Day Out up to and including the 2008 festival, and would have been at the 2009 event was I not living in Japan. Furthermore, you can expect to see my pretty little head and awkwardly out-of-shape body at the 2010 Big Day Out.

However, and here is where my rant truly begins, I went to these festivals to witness the wizardry of some of my most loved musicians rocking out in their associated bands. I didn’t drink (admittedly I was under 18, but there were countless others under age who were drinking), nor take drugs. Also, I didn’t go there to be seen and therefore considered ‘cool’, nor did I spend my time taking photos of my like-minded friends. However, most of all – I didn’t give a FUCK what I wore or what others thought of my clothes (wow, the first ‘Fuck’ in ten columns, oops and there’s the second one…).

Seriously, on my way to the shops earlier today I passed a 20-strong group of teens all styled to the point where a visit to some of the most prestigious catwalks of Milan wouldn’t have been deemed inappropriate. Once again, I should clarify that I’m not against fashion nor looking good, although sometimes it may seem that way (or all the time – there I took the obvious joke – now you can’t use it). I am, however, against people turning music festivals into showcases for their pretentiousness displayed through a complete disregard for the talents of the musician on display as they are too pre-occupied as to whether or not their make-up is applied correctly or if their socks match. Of all the people I discussed Parklife with, a great deal of people informed me that they had no idea who was playing, but they had, and this quote can genuinely be attributed to some “an awesome outfit organized.”



Anyway, I suppose we can all take solace from the fact that the rain turned those immaculately assembled outfits into pieces more commonly seen in certain bowls after a night on the turps.

Okay, rant over.

Back to business: Milestone’s in music are few and far between, so when they occur it is time for acknowledgment, discussion, and sometimes celebration. One such milestone occurred at last year’s Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California. Here, for the first time in 43 years, a Jazz album was honoured with the award of ‘Album Of The Year’. Competing against, among others, the Foo Fighters’ (horrendous) album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Kanye West’s critically acclaimed Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, jazz legend Herbie Hancock’s album River: The Joni Letters was triumphant in victory.

Hancock’s surprise at the honour and milestone was evident in his acceptance speech, “I’d like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mould this time, and in doing so, honour the giants upon whose shoulders I stand.”

Seeing as how it can be considered a fair milestone that somebody like myself could whip up 10 columns on jazz, I feel this is as good a time as ever to write a short blurb on River: The Joni Letters. Released on September 25th, 2007, River: The Joni Letters is a homage to musician Joni Mitchell and features Hancock collaborating with many of music’s finest talents on eight songs composed by Mitchell, one by Duke Ellington and one Wayne Shorter. Joined by the legendary aforementioned Shorter on saxophone, as well as Dave Holland on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar, and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Hancock succeeds in making an album in which every song triumphs over the former, as he and his musical compatriots take you on a journey of musical wonder.

River: The Joni Letters begins with Court and Spark, where Norah Jones gently joins the band with her quaint vocals, and moves through to Edith and the Kingpin where Tina Turner’s signature vocal prowess adds power to the already filthy funkiness, emphasized by the sublime ensemble talent of the musicians on show. Moreover, Corrine Bailey Rae soothes her way through River, while Luciana Souza warms Amelia, and the incomparable Leonard Cohen lays his foreboding voice down within The Jungle Line.

Hancock and Shorter’s talents take centre stage in the album, where every note seems to be as delicate, yet impossibly powerful as anything ever heard before. The subtle powers of their fingers create sounds and tones that seem legitimately as perfect as music can be. This is no more evident than on the instrumental numbers Both Sides Now, Sweet Bird, Solitutde and Nefertiti.

While the musical delights of Hancock and Shorter, along with the rest of the band, make for riveting listening, it is Joni Mitchell’s appearance on The Tea Leaf Prophecy which creates the most pleasing of sounds. Her interpretation of her own work is perfection, as her subtle depictions of emotion and perfect rhythmic phrasing serve as an example of what all others should aspire to emulate.

River: The Joni Letters is a subtle album. Every song is performed in a way in which beauty will ooze directly from their instruments and into your soul. Winning a Grammy is no easy task; countless phenomenal musicians and bands have never achieved such a feat, including The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Diana Ross, Queen, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. As a result of this, it must be said that in this day and age, where media darlings and ‘the hot favourite’ always seem to triumph at such an award ceremony, for a then-68 year old jazz pianist to put together a record that won ‘Album of the Year’ against such famed and currently-popular opposition, this is an album that is home to quality beyond your wildest dreams.

Writing 10 columns is hard – Beating Dave Grohl is harder. Here’s to many more, Herbie…

Upcoming Jazz Events

Tuesday 6th October, 9:00pm

The Piano Shakin’ Daddies, whippin’ up some Mothbox Quakin’ Mayhem ft. Pugsley Buzzard and Bob Malone @ The Basement.

Early Bird Gen. Admission tix $28.00 (plus booking fee)/Gen. Admission tix $34.00 (plus booking fee)/Early Bird Dinner & Show Tix $74.80 per person/Dinner & Show Tix $80.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

Wednesday 7th October, 9:00pm

Simon Tedeschi + Ian Cooper @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $25 (plus booking fee)/Dinner & Show Tix $71.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

Thursday 8th, Friday 9th & Saturday 10th October, 9:30pm

David Campbell – Keep on Lovin’ @ The Basement.

Gen. Admission tix $50 (plus booking fee)/Dinner & Show Tix $98.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

Friday 9th October, 8:30pm – 11:00pm

The Alcohotlicks @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $12/$14/$18 @

Saturday 10th October, 8:30pm – 11:00pm

World According to James – CD Launch – Lingua Franca @ The Sound Lounge.

Tix $12/$14/$18 @

Monday 12th October, 9:30pm

Mark Guiliana & Sean Wayland Group feat. James Muller & Brett Hirst @ The Basement.

Concession Gen. Admission tix $23.00 (plus booking fee)/Gen. Admission tix $25.00 (plus booking fee)/Concession Dinner & Show Tix $71.80 per person/Dinner & Show Tix $68.80 per person @ & (612) 9251 2797 (Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:30pm)

Every Friday Night @ 8:00pm

Marsala @ Waverly Bowling Club.

Free entrance! Free car parking for 100 cars!

Tuesday 13th October & Tuesday 10th November, 7:30pm

Robert Green’s Cabaret Hour w/ Alexander Sussman @ Bar Me.

Tix $10.00 @ The door; Doors open @ 7:00pm. For More info check out

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