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Herbie Hancock Appointed 2014 Norton Professor Of Poetry At Harvard

Jazzed Magazine • News • January 21, 2014

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Always at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music, legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor Of Poetry at Harvard University. Hancock will give his six Norton Lectures, “The Ethics Of Jazz,” in February and March. The series follows Hancock’s receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor in December.

“The Ethics Of Jazz” will examine topics including “The Wisdom Of Miles Davis,” “Breaking The Rules,” “Cultural Diplomacy And The Voice Of Freedom,” and “Innovation And New Technologies.” Hancock will draw upon his five decades of experiences as a musician, composer, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, tireless innovator and father.

“It is a great privilege to welcome Herbie Hancock as the Norton Professor,” said Homi Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. “His unsurpassed contribution to the history of music has revolutionized our understanding of the ways in which the arts transform our civic consciousness and our spiritual aspirations. It would be no exaggeration to say that he has defined cultural innovation in each decade of the last half century.” The Mahindra Center is hosting the Norton Lectures.

Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet that pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz, he also developed new approaches on his own recordings, followed by his work in the 70s – with record-breaking albums such as “Headhunters” – that combined electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. “Rockit” and “Future Shock” marked Hancock’s foray into electronic dance sounds; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.

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