"TRIBUTE TO MILES" TOUR 2012: epic European tour included a super band (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Sean Jones, Sean Rickman) covering 50 years of the Miles Davis repertoire reinterpreted by Herbie, Wayne & Marcus. EVERY NIGHT a different musical adventure - as you might expect when you get a group like this together Concerts at Istanbul Jazz fest, North Sea Jazz fest, Montreux Jazz fest, Viennes Jazz fest, Antibes Jazz fest & Umbria jazz fest to name but a few. Used my Yamahiko pickups on Herbie Hancock's pianos at every show. These were Fazioli 278 concert grand pianos at MOST events, but I DID have a few Steinway concert grands where Faziolis were unavailable. No worries - due to the flexible mounting system included with Yamahiko pickups, dealing with different piano construction is a breeze. And ALWAYS consistent excellence with our sound. At Viennes, we had guitarist John Scofield (opening that night with his own quartet) sit in with us for the encore. Sco's audio engineer asked me if I was using Yamahiko pickups for Herbie's piano, as he LOVED the sound we had. When I told him I was, he mentioned that he was saving his $$ with the intent of getting a pair of Yamahiko pickups for his own use. Another convert to the Yamahiko family!
HERBIE HANCOCK - our fall tour of California included an appearance at the 54th Monterey Jazz festival. Outdoors with the FOH sound system in close proximity? No problem! Thanks to my pickups, getting Herbie's piano sounding full-bodied and OVER the band was painless. We also did a number of Herbie solo dates; "An Evening With Herbie Hancock". This was an INTERESTING project, as it involved not only Herbie playing solo acoustic piano but ALSO using EXTENSIVE electronics. Herbie debuted his orchestral arrangement of "Sonrisa", which required the live grand piano be superimposed on a full orchestra playback via Herbie's MAC hard drives. An interesting challenge: the SOUND of the solo acoustic piano had to be identical to the SOUND of the acoustic piano amplified to "float' over the AMPLIFIED orchestra playback - and this in MOSTLY symphonic orchestra venues with LIVE REVERBERANT ACOUSTICS. Use my Yamahiko pickups for an "acoustic" performance? ABSOLUTELY! Subtle blending of mics and pickups insured I could get a natural sound while providing the necessary level WHEN NEEDED to carry that sound over and above any amplified elements. At our performance in Philadelphia (at the Kimmel Center), I particularly enjoyed a post-concert discussion with a couple of "audiophile classical piano" enthusiasts. I was complimented regarding the fact that I "had maintained the acoustic integrity of the instrument at all times, even when dealing with louder accompaniment". After spending some time discussing the microphones I used and why, I asked these guys how they felt about the use of piano pickups. They responded "by definition, they compromise and color the natural sound of a piano". As much as I would have enjoyed revealing that I HAD USED PICKUPS AS PART OF OUR PRESENTATION THEY JUST ENJOYED and bursting their bubble, load-out urgency dictated ending the conversation. Suffice to say that our "guardians of acoustic music" were unable to discern the inclusion of Yamahiko pickups as integral to our presentation. Elegant anecdotal evidence of just how natural these pickups sound.
KEM - I continue to use my pickups for any/all KEM dates where we do NOT use a MIDI-triggered grand piano. MOST of the time, these instruments are baby grand pianos - and even WITH the smaller size we can get usable low end out of the instruments via my pickups. What we used to go through... There have been MANY occasions where we just did NOT have the time to thoroughly tweak the piano EQ to insure we could get it heard in a large venue without feedback issues. Our old system REQUIRED at least a few minutes alone with the piano to "dial it in". The addition of my Yamahiko pickups makes this substantially easier and faster. It's a feeling of confidence that when KEM starts "Why Would You Stay" with that classic "hook" ALONE ON ACOUSTIC PIANO, you KNOW you can get it loud enough to be heard in a big theater/arena, even over screaming female fans. AND IT STILL SOUNDS LIKE A PIANO.
2012 - Looking forward to a busy year. Right off the bat I have Herbie Hancock in Paris late January - a "special quartet" of Manu Katche, Esperanza Spaulding and Corrine Bailey Rae. This will be Herbie on acoustic grand piano only, but as I have my Yamahiko pickups I go with confidence. Stay tuned for further updates.