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The Giving Trio

Amazing things happen when Bill Strickland and Herbie Hancock join forces.

Two years ago, jazz great Herbie Hancock came to the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild to perform in MCG’s 350-seat concert hall, as part of the annual jazz series.

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He left having found a soul mate in Bill Strickland.

As Strickland does with most of the musicians who play at MCG’s hall, he’d shown Hancock around – and told him about his ideas for using the arts and vocational training as a way to rebuild lives.

“I was blown away by what Bill had accomplished,” says Hancock, who started his own philanthropic efforts a few years ago with his Rhythm of Life Organization, a group that aims to bridge the gap between technological haves and have-nots. “What Bill was doing in Pittsburgh was totally in sync with my ideas.”

Now Hancock and Strickland have come together with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Brown heard Strickland give a talk about his work in Pittsburgh – and asked him to help start a similar organization in San Francisco. Hancock, Strickland, and Brown began drawing up plans this year. If all goes according to schedule, the project – tentatively titled the San Francisco Center for Advanced Technology and Education – will be up and running in three years.

Strickland will act as an adviser and consultant; the program will be run by Joseph Mouzon, who heads Hancock’s Rhythm of Life Organization. The new project will be similar to MCG-BTC: It will include vocational training and a jazz performance hall, where live concerts can be turned into recordings. The San Francisco vocational courses, however, will be tailored to local industries, such as computing and film production.

“There’s one single idea behind all of the thinking that Bill and I share,” Hancock says. “And that is, we’re all in this thing together. America’s mission was always to prove that people of different backgrounds, genders, and religions could not only get along but also combine forces to produce new ideas, new concepts, new ways of doing things. We could create a new world that none of the groups could produce on its own.”