See more of the story

Herbie Hancock is jazz's enduring rock star, but he knows his way around classical music, too.

After the esteemed keyboardist, cellphone in hand, ambled onstage to a standing ovation Thursday night at the sold-out State Theatre in Minneapolis, he warned that the concert is "going to start a little bit strange." He introduced a piece entitled "Overture," promising "bits and pieces…from the prehistoric past."

Throughout his six-decade career, Hancock has made some stylistic leaps that some followers considered strange as he morphed from post-bop to fusion to funk to hip-hop. On Thursday, he practically did all that in the opening 28-minute piece.

Hancock commenced with an elastic swoosh from his Kronos synthesizer. Then Lionel Loueke slid his pinky finger across the top string on his electric guitar. Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Devin Daniels added a dissonant duet before Blanchard took off on a peaceful wakeup call and then transitioned into an engrossing descending line, which drew enthusiastic applause.

Next it was an opportunity for Daniels, a 20-something former student of Hancock's at UCLA, to take an impressionistic run on alto sax. Eventually "Overture" afforded Hancock a chance for arpeggios on grand piano and Loueke some syncopated tapping on a snippet of "Rockit," Hancock's 1983 electro-dance hit and MTV favorite. And, somewhere in the mix, there was also a taste of "Butterfly," from 1974.

The opener was quite a pastiche of tunes, eras and sounds. The same could be said of the rewarding two-hour performance featuring six long works. The pieces were structured, the solos were not.

Hancock, who has collected 14 Grammys and one Oscar, was an amiable host, quick with humor and a smile, and generous to his sidemen. The musicians were a generation or two younger than the bandleader, who turns 84 next week, but nearly as accomplished as he is.

Drummer Trevor Lawrence Jr., 50, known for his extensive work with Dr. Dre, was a powerhouse, always finding the right groove. Five-string electric bassist James Genus, 58, who plays in the house band on "Saturday Night Live," was solid and arguably the most fascinating soloist, as his fingers tap danced on the frets during "Actual Proof" and sashayed on "Secret Sauce."

Blanchard, 62, a five-time Grammy winner and two-time Oscar recipient, is a star in his own right, and he brought a burning intensity to the proceedings, with his trumpet blasting through all kinds of special effects. Youngblood Daniels, an expressive if mellow-toned alto saxist, impressed as the night wore on, especially on "Footprints," composed by Wayne Shorter, Hancock's best friend.

The modest Loueke, 50, who played with Hancock in his last local appearance in 2017 at the Minnesota Zoo, added some scatting, vocal clicking and singing in Xhosa as well as innovative musical sounds, making his guitar emit squeals like a theremin.

The star of the show displayed his humor and humanity on a sermon via vocoder in the middle of 1978′s "Come Running to Me." "I don't know what I'm singing," he sang through a vocoder, a voice manipulator in his synthesizer. He eventually began spoken-word philosophizing about teaching human values to technology and learning to live as one family on the planet. He concluded his ad libbed monologue on vocoder with "the only enemy is yourself."

As the night wound down, the jazz giant got up from his synthesizer and adjacent piano and strapped a keytar over his shoulder. It was time for "Chameleon," Hancock's best known jazz composition, from his influential 1973 "Head Hunters" album. He exchanged playful squiggles with Loueke and eventually cut loose on keytar, never looking down at his hands, just getting into a funky groove with his hard-charging band. Hancock's only extended solo of the evening, it was greeted with smiles from his bandmates and concertgoers, and he ended it in style with a rock-star leap.