Herbie Hancock was on French TV last night, promoting his new album. Don't get too excited and romantic about the possibility of high culture on French state TV - he performed at the end of a literary show (guests included former center-right Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin, who has just written his second book on Napoleon, and Régis Debray. Bizarrely, they seem to be good friends) that had started at 11:30 PM.
Hancock's performance was announced at the beginning, but a clip of the band, probably shot during sound check, showed Wayne Shorter alongside Hancock. Amazingly, Shorter went totally unmentioned until just before they began playing. The band was essentially Shorter's quartet with Hancock instead of Danilo Perez and the addition of Luciana Souza to sing Joni Mitchell's "Amelia." I've yet to be really taken with Souza (I've only heard her album of Elizabeth Bishop poetry and her appearances the last two Maria Schneider albums), and she seemed particularly (and voluntarily) colourless here.
As on the two excerpts I posted recently, the music intimated through small strokes and constantly eschewed big gestures, or even repeated ones. Low-key as it was, the quintet attempted a high-wire act nearly impossible to pull off in a few minutes in a TV studio. Ultimately, it was kind of boring. There was, however, one moment of grace when, on the wordless vocalisations after the third verse, Souza held a note and Shorter (on soprano) joined her to sound like an overtone in the singer's voice. It lasted perhaps one second or two, but I'm happy I stayed up late to hear it.
You can see the performance by going to the show's website and clicking on the video camera in the right-hand sidebar. It starts around the 1:37 mark (don't worry, you can move the slider right to that point, you don't have to watch the whole thing).
The show opened with Vanessa Paradis, who also has a new album out (produced by the great Mathieu Chedid alias M, and the first single is vintage him, especially the backing vocals and the interruption on the verse). My favourite part, though, is the cover painting, a Klimt-pop portrait of Paradis by her husband Johnny Depp.