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Mega Nova at the Hollywood Bowl

Supergroup features Hancock, Shorter, Santana, Miller and Blackman Santana

Mega Nova performs at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2016. From left: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Karl Perazzo, Marcus Miller, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana

On Aug. 24, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles hosted the first, and to date only, scheduled live performance by Mega Nova, a jazz-rock “supergroup” featuring pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, guitarist Carlos Santana, bassist Marcus Miller and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, with support from percussionist Karl Perazzo. Whether this titanic gathering will appear together again remains to be seen, but if this was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s fitting, if unsurprising given this talent, that the result was once-in-a-lifetime music.

The evening kicked off with a set from Stax Revue, an old-school R&B outfit fronted by organist Booker T. Jones. The ensemble presented a crowd-pleasing array of tunes made famous by the stalwart Memphis soul label, including the zesty, island-flavored “Soul Limbo” and Booker T.’s own hit “Green Onions”; on the latter, the organist effortlessly brought mighty groove to one of popular music’s most famous instrumentals, while his son, guitarist Ted Jones, split the sky with phrases that tumbled wildly, then rescaled the heights with thunderous passion. Vocalist Anthony Jawan gave “Try a Little Tenderness” a melisma-driven fervor, with robust support from tenor saxophonist Wes Smith, and Denosh Bennett’s sassy brashness sparked a spunky take on “Mr. Big Stuff.” Booker T. brought the band’s set to a rousing close with his own rough-and-ready vocal lead on Stax’s label-defining empowerment anthem “Respect Yourself.”

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