Herbie Hancock: Jazz as a metaphor for life

Full Frame

FULL FRAME1.Still001

“Through jazz, barriers are broken,” says living jazz legend, Herbie Hancock. In 2011, Hancock was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of intercultural dialogue, putting him on the world stage to spread messages of peace and unity. Hancock’s long time musical colleague, Wayne Shorter, describes Herbie as a musician that became a “statesman.”

Famous for his musical innovation, in hits like “Watermelon Man” and “Chameleon,” Herbie Hancock is not only a jazz icon, but, as the Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, he is also a mentor to the next generation of jazz greats here in the United States.

In its dedication to preserving and promoting jazz, The Thelonious Monk Institute partnered with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2012. In this program, a highly select group of gifted young musicians have the opportunity to pursue their master of music in jazz while working alongside legends. Full Frame contributor, Sandra Hughes, visited the Herb Alpert School of Music to speak with this year’s graduating class. And perhaps Diego Urbano, who is a vibraphonist from Chile, said it best when he told Hughes, “It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s the biggest opportunity I’ll ever have.”

Hancock was a child prodigy at age 11, performing piano concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Six decades later, he is recognized as a pioneer of modern jazz music and one of America’s most influential cultural ambassadors to the world. This is no surprise given his long and accomplished career is music. As the chairman of Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Hancock is also passing his insight onto the next generation of influential jazz musicians.

April 30th is now International Jazz Day thanks to Hancock’s efforts to foster dialogue among cultures by encouraging diversity and human dignity. The global event is reaching billions of people worldwide – this year the event had participation from every country on Earth.

Although jazz music is uniquely American, it “makes a profound difference in all of our lives,” says Hancock. Herbie Hancock joined Full Frame’s Mike Walter to share his insights on the role music can play in bringing people closer together.

A special thanks to the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture for facilitating Full Frame’s reporting on the The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program.