By now, Chicago-born pianist Herbie Hancock could simply enjoy the fruits of his labor, but even after all these years he is still looking for a new challenge. Following up on his Grammy-winning “River: The Joni Letters” (the first jazz record to be awarded Album of the Year since 1965), he emerges with “The Imagine Project,” a global effort recorded in studios all over the world that features the likes of Konono No. 1, Tinariwen, Lionel Loueke, Seal, Derek Trucks, Anoushka Shankar, Jeff Beck, Marcus Miller and many others. Hancock’s idea is to promote what many would call a cliché—peace and understanding through the global language of music. The result is astonishing: For instance, Peter Gabriel’s eighties hit “Don’t Give Up” is transformed into an African-inspired anthem in the voices of John Legend and Pink, while John Lennon’s iconic “Imagine” is completely reinvented with a multilayered arrangement built around percussion, piano and electric guitar. For the tour, Hancock assembled an outstanding band featuring Greg Phillinganes (piano), Pino Palladino (bass), Loueke (guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Chicago-based Kristina Train (vocals). (Ernest Barteldes)
August 21, Symphony Center, 220 South Michigan, (312)294-3000, 8pm. $30-$95.