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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

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Over the past forty-nine years there's been no shortage of ink spilled extolling the musical virtues of Herbie Hancock's 1965 recording, Maiden Voyage. Featuring the great trumpet of Freddie Hubbard and the bracing tenor of George Coleman, the record is as good as any effort turned in by Hancock during that period. It's a record every jazz fan should know. Unfortunately, Maiden Voyage also has a long-standing reputation for mediocre sound quality. In another review of an expensive vinyl re-release of this record I wrote, “There is nothing to be gained by a first-class analogue pressing of a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Herbie Hancock: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1972-1988

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As Legacy Records slowly works its way through complete album collection boxes for artists ranging from Stanley Clarke and The Brecker Brothers to the massive Miles Davis and Johnny Cash boxes, one of the notable absences has been keyboardist Herbie Hancock. While he was not a Columbia artist for as long as either Cash or Davis, he was around long enough to release a total of 31 albums over the course of seventeen years--though a full 25 percent of them were never issued Stateside. Legacy redeems itself with the long overdue The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1972-1988 by ...

LIVE REVIEWS

International Jazz Day: Istanbul, Turkey April 30, 2013

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International Jazz DayIstanbul, TurkeyApril 30, 2013At a morning press conference opening the 10th annual Panama Jazz Festival in January, 2013, a long table was peopled by dignitaries and musical dignitaries. Festival highlight, saxophonist Wayne Shorter sat in the center (almost like Jesus in the Last Supper configuration), flanked by the ambitious and outspokenly idealistic festival founder, pianist Danilo Perez, singer Ruben Blades, and Shorter's longtime friend and ally, pianist Herbie Hancock. At some point, late in the proceedings that morning, Hancock made a declaration: “I was just thinking that on April 30th , it will be the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: Inventions and Dimensions

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Recorded in August of 1963, pianist Herbie Hancock's Inventions and Dimensions puts pulsing, grooving rhythms at the center of the music, with Latin percussive elements and--in the best jazz tradition of the times--lots of blues. This isn't Hancock's most well-known date from his tenure at Blue Note, but it's an important recording for both its structural sophistication and the notably high quality of the piano improvisations, no small feat for so superlative an artist. The title of the opening “Succotash" suggests some down-home blue burner that might have been at home on one of the label's funkier soul-jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles

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As a member of Miles Davis' second quintet during the 1960s, pianist Herbie Hancock rarely performed live under his own leadership, but he did take the time to record. Hancock's 1964 effort, Empyrean Isles, remains one of the most diverse and often challenging records of the pianist's tenure with Blue Note Records. It's a rare jazz record that offers both a hugely popular hit, as well as an outré masterwork of rhythmic repetition and angular melodies. A masterpiece like Empyrean Isles deserves a first-class reissue, and the good folks at Music Matters have undertaken to press the ultimate ...

JAZZ IN THE AQUARIAN AGE

Herbie Hancock: The Chameleon Shows His Colors

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[Herbie Hancock has a long history of mixing it up--from jazz to funk, pop, and everything in between. At the time I did this interview with him in the summer of 1979, he'd been making ventures away from straight-ahead jazz for some time, but they were still fresh enough to have some fans up in arms. From today's perspective, though, it's clear that his eclecticism is a big part of what makes him the grand man of music that he is.] Ever since his 1973 Head Hunters (Columbia) album, Herbie Hancock has been a subject of some ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner: Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner

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Atlantic Records issued this collection 1976, featuring two tracks each from four of the most important pianists in the post-bop era. Excepting one piece, each pianist is represented here in trio format. The Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea offerings are from their own 1966 sessions as leaders. Jarrett contributes two original compositions and is joined by drummer Paul Motian and bassist Charlie Haden in pleasurable but somewhat conservative outings. Corea brings two different lineups: Joe Chambers on drums and Steve Swallow on bass alone for the pianist's own “Tones for Joan's Bone's," while trumpeter ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Herbie Hancock: Bangkok, Thailand, May 8, 2011

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Herbie HancockRoyal Paragon HallBangkok, ThailandMay 8, 2011Herbie Hancock is--like the title of one of his most celebrated tunes--a chameleon, and the audience at a near-packed Royal Paragon Hall was reminded of just how many changes Hancock has stylishly wrung over the last fifty years. There were touches of his more impressionistic Blue Note recordings of the '60s, and the modal jazz purveyed by trumpeter Miles Davis's second great quintet, of which Hancock was a pivotal member for six years; heavy doses of funk grooves were a throwback to the barnstorming '70s, when Hancock carved out ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

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There are few worse examples of a masterpiece performance being savaged by poor recording quality than Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. This very expensive recent re-release on 45RPM vinyl by Analogue Productions only serves to highlight its engineering travesty.Rudy Van Gelder had the great fortune to record the best of the best in jazz for Prestige, Blue Note and other notable labels of the 1950s and '60s. The signature RVG stamped in the dead wax of these albums marks not only his recording, but his mastering and pressing as well. He was involved in the production of these records ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Herbie Hancock Imagine Project: Philadelphia, August 13, 2010

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Herbie Hancock / The Imagine ProjectThe Man CenterPhiladelphia, USAAugust 13, 2010 On a cool August night at the open air Mann Center, pianist Herbie Hancock reminisced about his '60s gigs in Philly with Miles Davis back in the day, but he was not looking to rest on any laurel. For two-and-a-half hours, Hanckock showed that he was very much in his prime. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta introduced the throbbing, concussive “Chameleon," as the the band filed in: guitarist Lionel Loueke (from Benin, a tiny country of West Africa), keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project

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Intersecting with the pop world is nothing new to Herbie Hancock. Collaborating with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis on the early nexus of jazz and rock, In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969), the keyboardist scored his own fusion hit with the funkified Head Hunters (Columbia) in 1973) and, a decade later, was on the cutting edge of techno/electronica with Future Shock (Columbia, 1983). More recently, Possibilities (Hear Music, 2005) enlisted artists including Christine Aguilera, Paul Simon and Sting for an unmistakable pop album that still retained a subtle jazz undercurrent in Hancock's own unmistakable pianism.The Imagine Project builds on ...

INTERVIEWS

Herbie Hancock: One World, One Music

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The world today is in big trouble. We might think that we have learned our lesson and opted for togetherness--after all, centuries of wars, misunderstanding, miscommunication and misinterpretation have brought nothing of value to the human race. Today we are told to frown upon our neighbors across the border; yesterday, neighbors from all over the world were building up countries, stone-by-stone. Paraphrasing Uruguayan songwriter Jorge Drexler, “We all are from everywhere," so what's the big deal? Piano icon Herbie Hancock's The Imagine Project (Verve, 2010) may hold one of the most beautiful answers ever expressed in musical form. ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Herbie Hancock: Seven Decades of Imagination

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In the jazz world, certain figures exist purely as first names, their reputation assuring recognition. When ones hears the name Herbie, the mind jumps immediately to possibly the most famous 'rhythm section' in history: Herbie, Ron and Tony. That group included two more figures for whom last names are unnecessary, Miles and Wayne. Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born on Apr. 12th, 1940 and, at the precocious age of 21, had made his recording debut in the band of another trumpeter, Donald Byrd. But despite a legendary and often controversial career (which began as a leader in 1962 with Takin' Off) ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters

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While Sextant (Columbia, 1973) found keyboardist Herbie Hancock dabbling in the electronic soundscapes of the emerging jazz-fusion movement which gained him notoriety as a fusion impressionist aficionado, it was Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973) that propelled him out of the smoky jazz clubs and into the wide-open spaces of arena-rock stardom. Along for the ride is Hancock's company of players: long-time collaborator and reedman Bernie Maupin, electric bassist Paul Jackson, drummer Harvey Mason and, playing a plethora of secondary percussion, Bill Summers. The album--Hancock's second offering to Columbia--became the largest selling jazz album of all time with more than one million ...



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