Brush With Greatness, Pt.1  

Posted by Tony Guerrero

(Photo dated 1964)

I've gotten to meet and work with some well known musicians over the years, but there are a few stories that stand out for me. Here's the first one.

In 1987, I was a twenty year old kid who was in the middle of recording my first CD. The recording engineer on the project was a guy named Joe Manolakakis who also had happened to just get the gig as Herbie Hancock's personal engineer. Herbie Hancock is one of the all-time great jazz pianists - a legend in his own lifetime.

Well, one night around 11pm I got a call from Joe. Herbie had just returned from Tower Records trying to buy up all the Art Tatum (another piano legend) records and was disappointed in their limited selection. Joe knew I had a large record collection and called to say, "Hey Tony, grab all your Art Tatum records and get up here." I, of course, dropped everything and did just that, driving an hour to L.A., thinking I was just going to drop them off and let Herbie "borrow" them…and I'd be thrilled to let him.

Instead, Herbie invited me in, and the three of us spent from midnight until about 5am in Herbie's living room listening to Art Tatum records, talking about jazz and Herbie's many experiences, having a little wine (I wasn't a drinker, but I probably would have drunk sewer water if he'd offered it!) and even a few rare moments when Herbie gave me a brief piano lesson. An unbelievable evening for this young jazz fan.

I'm positive Herbie doesn't remember this event - don't bother asking him - but it is a night I'll never forget.

Do yourself a favor - check out some Herbie recordings: His legendary recordings as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet in the early 60's; his first solo recordings, which included songs like Watermelon Man and Cantaloupe Island (the latter of which you all know even if you don't recognize the title - check iTunes); his first forays into funk music with his Headhunters Band; his worldwide 80's hit "Rockit" (one of the first hip-hop instrumental hits - another one you'd recognize); his recent recordings that feature artists like Christina Aguilera and, finally, "River", his Joni Mitchell tribute recording, which just won the 2008 Grammy for Record of the Year over every pop record out there. Quite a catalogue.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at Wednesday, July 02, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Tony -
This is Jon, the guy that writes Stuff Christians Like. Bravo man, that piece was great. Love what you guys do. Please know that I shared your idea with 100,000 folks because I thought it was so good. We should connect sometime and talk creativity and the church

7/02/2008 5:08 PM were 20 in 1987?!

7/02/2008 10:32 PM

Awesome! I LOVE Herbie!!! You've gained some "cool" points!! Congrats!

7/08/2008 8:39 PM

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