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Herbie Hancock: “I don’t feel that I’m missing Miles because I don’t feel he’s gone.”

Here’s a quick look at an interview Herbie Hancock recently had with The Telegraph.

Q  Do you think that jazz has outlived itself?

A  I’m seeing a lot of new, young jazz players emerging from high schools, way more than I expected. They’re talented, they’re good and they want to play the music. To me that says jazz is very much alive and well.

There were a lot of my elders that shared their experiences with me, that encouraged me and helped me to be what I am today. And I’m at the point where I want to do the same thing for young people, share my experiences, encourage them, help them to find their way; not my way, their way.

Fortunately I had a great teacher, Miles Davis, who helped me to find my way. He never told us what to play. In five and a half years, he never said, “Don’t play this”. And if he did tell us to play something, it was always wrong. Always.

It took me years to figure out: if I wanted to follow him, I had to follow myself and bring the answer from myself. That’s what a master teacher does.

Miles was non-judgmental. He never told us he didn’t like what we played, never said ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’. I remember I played a real wrong chord at the peak of a great evening when Miles was soloing. He played some notes that made my chord right. It blew my mind. He didn’t hear it as a wrong chord, he just heard it as something that had happened and he took the responsibility of making something out of it. And I try to do the same thing myself.

Take whatever happens and try to make it work. This is the essence of my experience with Miles and it’s always present. I don’t feel that I’m missing Miles because I don’t feel he’s gone. It’s like that for a lot of the people that have played with Miles. Some of them say they were deeply touched by the experience of playing with him in a way that’s almost mystical and indescribable.

Now I try to live up to this experience and turn anything that happens into something of value for my life. It’s part of life to have obstacles. It’s about overcoming obstacles, that’s the key to happiness.

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