Herbie Hancock — pianist, composer and maker of musical revolutions — is coming to San Francisco this week (May 16-18) for a series of sold-out shows at SFJazz. With his visit in mind, wheels began to turn: Why not create a list of the dozen greatest living jazz musicians? Hancock would be on it; that was a no-brainer. But who else would make the cut?
1. HERBIE HANCOCK
He is the classiest of musicians, as well as the funkiest, the most impressionist, the most inquisitive and free. From Miles Davis to “Rockit,” from “Maiden Voyage” to his Joni Mitchell remakes, pianist Hancock has brought to bear his harmonic and compositional genius. You can accuse him of periods of pandering, but when you step back to look at the 50-year landscape, you see his vision and the way he’s gone after new experiences, new technologies and (always) new sounds. Hancock, 74, knows how to grow old. Try “Maiden Voyage,” “Mwandishi” and “Head Hunters.”
Honored by SFJazz gala (Friday), performing with Vinnie Colaiuta, Zakir Hussain, Lionel Loueke and Marcus Miller (Saturday-Sunday)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: SFJazz Center, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco
Tickets: All shows sold out, check for turn-back tickets on day of each show, 866-920-5299, www.sfjazzorg.