On October 25th, 2001 I saw a remarkable conglomeration of jazz talent share the stage in Toronto’s storied Massey Hall. Namely, Michael Brecker, John Patitucci, Roy Hargrove, and Brian Blade, all under the direction of the legendary Herbie Hancock and touring under the moniker “Directions In Music”.
Though this concert occurred long before my easy access and overexposure to Herbie Hancock concerts instilled in me a somewhat blasé attitude towards the jazz giant, it was also well after I had become positively smitten with the ecstatically brilliant drumming of the great Brian Blade. As a result, I can’t recall which jazz monster in particular drew me to making the drive to Toronto for this concert, but in reality it was probably Christine.
My girlfriend at the time, Christine was a brilliant artist who was enrolled in the University of Toronto’s Medical Illustration program* (she once drew a picture of my left foot that made the cover of an entire section in that year’s international medical encyclopedia), and I took every opportunity possible to go and visit her, though her studies kept her very short on time.
Y’see, to graduate as a medical illustrator meant you had to take the same courses as the regular medical students, in addition to the extra illustration classes. This kept her pretty busy, and also gave her access to a lot of wacky parts of the campus, including the school’s small and secret medical museum.
(Psst…don’t tell anyone, but she once gave me a tour. It was way less creepy than I thought it would be, but it was chock-full of things that sure sound creepy on paper. Most interesting was the glassed-together pieces of a human body that had been fully cross-sectioned. Like I say, sounds pretty creepy, but it was actually quite fascinating.)
Christine was also the person who introduced me to the world of modern jazz and so much more good music. People like Bill Frisell and Daniel Lanois, Tricky, John McLaughlin and yes, Herbie Hancock.
(Come to think of it, we had already been broken up for some time by 2001, but we did go to this concert together. Even after she broke up with me we were always able to stay friends, which was pretty cool.)
Wow, I sure got sidetracked there.
Of course the concert was great. With that kind of playing power how could it be otherwise? Want proof? The show was recorded and Herbie released it under the title Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall and you know what else? The album won the 2003 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group.
So yeah, it was a good show.
*Incidentally, one of her instructors was Terry Watkinson, the keyboard player from one of my all-time favourite bands, Max Webster. I never did get to meet him.