In their first musical reunion in almost a decade, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams will tour Europe, Japan and the United States beginning this summer. The foursome, plus trumpeter Wallace Roney, will offer a salute to the late Miles Davis, their esteemed ex-leader, with whom they performed and recorded as a unit from 1963 to 1968.
"The idea for the band to reunite was very spontaneous and logical," said Hancock earlier this week, adding that plans for the project were first discussed at Davis' funeral in New York last October. "Besides we love playing together."
It was Carter who suggested including Roney, a member of Williams' quintet who had played with Davis last summer, at a now-legendary performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland of material from the famed trumpeter's classic '40s and '50s era. Hancock said the choice "immediately sounded right."
"Wallace has a deep respect for Miles and he's a young guy not really that well known in the jazz world, while the rest of us are like old war horses," Hancock said, laughing. "Besides Miles picked him. That must mean something."
Roney, who will play with Williams' band in late May at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood, was ecstatic at his selection. "Oh man, I'm in heaven," he said in a phone call from his home in New York. "After playing with Miles, this is the second greatest thing that could happen."
The musicians will gather in Los Angeles in early June to rehearse, and make a studio recording for Qwest Records, the label for which Hancock is currently recording a new electric album. The group debuts in Spain on June 23, then will tour the Continent and Japan. It is scheduled to perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 23.
Though no decision has been reached on what material to perform, Hancock is leaning toward lesser-known works.
"There were so many things that we recorded that we never played live," he said.
Roney hopes that new compositions will be included. "That would reflect what Miles means to us rather than having it be a ghost band," he said. "I couldn't live up to that."
Rim Shots: The Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band plays a benefit Sunday for "Jazz Goes to Germany," a program that sends young, talented inner-city musicians on a cultural exchange to Germany. The event, which takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, costs $25. Information: (310) 670-7535.
Critic's Choice: John Scofield, who plays Thursday at the Strand in Redondo Beach, is the jazz guitarist of the moment. His multi-genre blends reveal both where jazz has been and where it's going. His quartet sports the likewise-groundbreaking tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano.