Synth-jazz pioneer Patrick Gleeson continues what he started with Herbie Hancock
A music pioneer who introduced the complex Moog synthesizer to jazz, Patrick Gleeson recorded and toured with “post-bop” era architect Herbie Hancock in the 1970s before giving it all up for a career scoring film and television.
Now, at age 82 — more than 40 years after his last gig — Gleeson is returning to live performance with a series of synth-driven jazz concerts, including a Sunday show at Beyond Baroque in Venice.
“While the money in film and television was really good, what you’re doing is you’re giving up the opportunity to express yourself. You’re using whatever abilities you have to express what’s needed for the film,” explains Gleeson, whose credits include synth work on “Apocalypse Now.” “I always said to myself, ‘When this doesn’t scare me anymore, I’m going to quit.’ And I realized a few years ago it hadn’t scared me in years, so I quit.”
After making a couple of albums with musician acquaintances, Gleeson finally decided he was ready to hit the road again for the first time.
“The time in my life that I felt most alive was when I was touring. It’s very existential. You go out there and you’re either a hero or a fool. You have no control of it,” he says. “And with Herbie’s band it was really that way because they improvised a lot.”
Gleeson appeared on Hancock’s albums “Crossings” and “Sextant,” when the bandleader was experimenting with electronic music on his way to the electro-funk sounds of 1983’s Platinum-certified album “Future Shock.”
Sunday’s show includes new material in which Gleeson explores orchestrations that might have been had Hancock not gone in another musical direction.
“This music that I’ll be playing is a combination of my experiences with Herbie Hancock and the two Miles Davis albums of the early ‘70s, which I didn’t play on but listened to constantly,” says Gleeson. “Herbie decided to end the band when we were right on the brink, so for me there’s some unfinished business.”
But no hard feelings.
“I would be selling insurance if it wasn’t for Herbie. I learned so much from him. That experience is what’s guiding me now as I begin playing again,” Gleeson says.
— Gary Walker
Patrick Gleeson performs at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23, at Beyond Baroque, 681 N. Venice Blvd., Venice. Free admission. Visit laughtears.com for gig info.