A retrospective of his work, Herbie Hancock’s four-CD boxed set hits most of the high points. Both acoustic and electric styles are included, as the performance dates range from 1973 to 1988. They’re not simply laid out in chronological order. Instead, Hancock and producers Bob Belden & David Rubinson have taken the time and effort to think things through and arrange this program thoughtfully. It has a natural flow, and Hancock’s various projects are always fresh & exciting.
With Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter, his acoustic bands have made history. His duet concerts with Chick Corea stir the senses. Discs one and two focus primarily on Hancock’s acoustic material from 1976-81, much of which has been made available only in Japan. A previously unreleased performance of “Red Clay,” recorded before a concert audience on July 18, 1977 in San Diego, finds Hubbard, Shorter, Williams, Carter and Hancock in exceptionally fine form. It’s the kind of drive they exhibit that has influenced several generations of jazz artists these past decades. Wynton Marsalis’ 1981 sizzling performance of “The Sorcerer” in Japan with Hancock’s trio was another seminal event.
Disc three combines the funkiness of Hancock’s Headhunters years with similar adventures that involve arrays of synthesizers. Much of the material embodies an appreciation for the exotic sounds of different cultures from all over the world. “Watermelon Man” gets a makeover and the main title theme from Death Wish proves intriguing. Bennie Maupin, Paul Jackson, Harvey Mason and Bill Summers make fine partners for the composer’s planned adventures. Singing his R&B ballad “Come Running to Me,” Hancock strolls through the mid-to-late ‘70s with smooth jazz in mind. The popular formula fit right with his use of synth effects; however, much of the excitement went right out the door. They were shallow years.
Disc four reflects Hancock’s crossover popularity. MTV has been quite effective at ushering in changes to the realm of popular music. The pianist’s use of elements from R&B, hip-hop and smooth jazz changed what he’d been doing in the late ‘70s and through the 1980s. “Rockit” adds a mindless landscape that would work well accompanying scenes from an Eddie Murphy movie. “Karabali” adds exotic scenes, as though from a worldly-wise vacationer returning to share with his friends. “Nobu” and “Spider” stretch out with familiar, contemporary sounds wrapped up in funk-driven packages. Gavin Christopher’s lead vocals on “Satisfied With Love” and “Stars in Your Eyes” offer romantic, contemporary sounds that appeal to a broad audience. Herbie Hancock’s been a music pioneer for quite a few years now. His creations cover a lot of territory. This retrospective provides some insight; everyone should be able to find his favorite somewhere in The Herbie Hancock Box .
Track Listing: Introduction to Maiden Voyage; Maiden Voyage; Para Oriente; Harvest Time; The Sorcerer; Diana; Finger Painting;
Personnel: Herbie Hancock- piano, electric piano, synthesizers, keyboards, vocals, vocorder, handclaps; Chick Corea- piano; Patrick Gleeson, Fundi- synth; Michael Beinhorn- synth, synth programming; Nicky Skopelitis- Fairlight drums; Will Alexander, Jeff Bova- synth programming; Wah Wah Watson, Lee Ritenour, Ray Parker, Jr.- guitar; Ron Carter, Buster Williams- bass; Jaco Pastorius, Paul Jackson, Freddie Washington, Bill Laswell- electric bass; Tony Williams, Billy Hart, Mike Clarke, Harvey Mason, James Levi, Alphonse Mouzon- drums; Bill Summers, Kenneth Nash, Sheila Escovedo- percussion; Grand Mixer D.S.T.- turntables; Daniel Ponce- bata; Baba Duru- tablas; Raul Renkow- congas; Hamid Drake- cymbals; Wayne Shorter- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bennie Maupin- saxello, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ernie Watts, Jim Horn- flute; Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Henderson, Jay Daversa, Bud Brisbois- trumpet; Julian Priester- alto trombone; Garnett Brown- bass trombone; Bobby McFerrin, Gavin Christopher, Oren Waters, Luther Waters, Maxine Waters, Julia Waters, Bernard Fowler- vocals.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.