Hancock & Santana: 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees

Friday, 13 September 2013 12:53 PM Written by 

Along with opera singer Martina Arroyo, actress Shirley Maclaine and singer-songwriter Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana were named as 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees.  IN the case of the latter two, it's not hard to see why.

Hancock's jazz innovations  have spanned over half a century.  And Santana, a pioneering rock guitarist since him and his band emerged from San Francisco in the late 60's, has become a musical institution as well as one of the early Latinos whose music came into the mainstream decades ago.

Just a couple videos, early and more recent on each.  One could easily compile a dozen.

Hancock was already a standout pianist and composer when Miles Davis added him to his "Second Great Quintet" in 1963.  The song here, from a 1967 performance,  is "Gingerbread Boy." The musicians are   Miles, Hancock, piano Ron Carter, bass; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax; Tony Williams, drums

Hancock in 2009, appearing on Elvis Costello's short-lived Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... music and talk show (seen only in Britain and Canada), playing the composition that first gained him notice: "Watermelon Man," which he wrote and recorded in 1962, a year before he joined Miles.

Santana, who took inspiration from quite a few blues guitarists (including the late and sadly forgotten Mike Bloomfield) with the group that made his reputation at Woodstock, 1969: "Soul Sacrifice" Santana, guitar; David Brown, bass; Michael Shrieve, drums; Gregg Rolie, keyboards Michael Carabello, percussion; Jose Areas, percussion;

On a personal note, not everyone loved Latino music around here in the late 60's. I distinctly recall a DJ on one of the early Pittsburgh stations to play "Underground" rock as it was known, playing this track on the air. These DJs were supposed to be about love and brotherhood. This one had a bit of Archie Bunker in him. When the track ended, he returned, obnoxiously dismissing it as "Ricky Ricardo and his Orchestra." Jackass.

Santana in more recent years doing another of his standards, "Oye Como Va," a song he picked up from the groundbraking Latin jazz orchestra great Tito Puente, who considered Santana's the ultimate version.

I can't think of two musicians who deserve this honor more.

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