Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock Storm Bricktown: John Axelrod Holds it Down
Musical ambassadors unite & ignite. The unlikely duo of jazzmatazz maestro Herbie Hancock and ivory smasher Lang² descended on New Jersey this past weekend as they winded down their symphony extravaganza tour that's already finessed parts of Europe and the USA. The cohesive factor was the insoluble John Axelrod, who whipped the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra into a frenzy through a populist program of widely accessible music (Mozart, Ravel, Bernstein, and Gershwin) -- the kind of music that speaks directly to the people as opposed to speaking down to them.
Crossover & synthesis is nothing new to classical music -- we've already witnessed the convergence of classical + numerous musical genres (metal, rock, hip hop, opera, etc.) for ages. So it's no secret that the tour's goal was to entice new audiences and to bridge the gap between jazz and symphony fans. It's not really about blurring the lines between jazz and classical, nor it's about finding an elusive, idealized halfway point that transcends the boundaries of audiences.
But, for once, you simply choose not to cater to the snob, the lady who's there to flaunt her new jewelry or new face lift (or both), the self-appointed arbiter of taste, the great expert of all things classical who for some reason has been trying unsuccessfully to break into classical music for 40 years and carries the inevitable huge chip on his shoulder because of that. For one night, one night only, it's about fun: no elitists or classical snobs allowed...Populist? Maybe. Fun? Yes! The classical-music-is-serious-business-guy should just stay home and complain about his jetlag, cold meatloaf, traffic, and property taxes.