Herbie Hancock & Herbie Hancock Trio
Photography @ the Royal Festival Hall
14 November 2010 - 1996
Click an image to enlarge.
“Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious
Monk, and I haven't heard anybody yet who has come after him.”
Herbie Hancock biography
Herbie Hancock is one of the most respected musicians of our time.
His illustrious career spans five decades, he continually surprises
his audience with his explorative musical journey and never ceases
to expand the public's vision of what music, particularly jazz,
is all about today.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Hancock was a child piano prodigy who
performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
at the tender age of 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially
influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. Also at this time,
an additional passion for electronic science began to develop. As
a result, he took a double major in music and electrical engineering
at Grinnell College.
In 1960, at age 20, trumpeter Donald Byrd asked Hancock to join
his group. Byrd also introduced Hancock to Alfred Lion of Blue Note
Records, and after two years of session work with the likes of Phil
Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed to the legendary label as a solo
artist. His 1963 debut album, Takin’ Off, was an immediate
success, producing “Watermelon Man,” a big hit on jazz
and R&B radio.
In 1963, Miles Davis invited Hancock to join his Quintet. During
his five years with Davis, Hancock and his colleagues thrilled audiences
and recorded classic after classic, including the albums ESP, Nefertiti,
and Sorcerer. Most jazz critics and fans regard this group, which
also included Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony
Williams (drums), as the greatest small jazz group of the 1960s.
Simultaneous with his work for Davis, Hancock’s own solo
career blossomed on Blue Note, creating such classic albums as Maiden
Voyage, Empyrean Isles, and Speak Like a Child. In 1966, he composed
the score to Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Blow Up. This
led to a successful career in feature film and television music,
including music for Bill Cosby’s Emmy-winning Hey, Hey, Hey,
It’s Fat Albert and many other film scores in following years.
After leaving Miles Davis in 1968, Hancock stepped full-time into
the new electronic jazz-funk that was sweeping the world. In 1973,
Hancock’s new band “The Headhunters” recorded
the platinum selling album “Head Hunters”. The album
spawned the widely sampled crossover hit single “Chameleon”.
By mid-decade, Hancock was playing for stadium-sized crowds all
over the world and had no fewer than four albums in the pop charts
at once. In total, Hancock had eleven albums in the pop charts during
the 1970s. Much of which are still sampled today.
In 1980, Hancock introduced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world
as a solo artist and produced his debut album. In 1983, Hancock
worked with the notorious musical architect Bill Laswell. This collaboration
spawned the first “Future Shock” album with the single
"Rockit" rocking the dance and R&B charts, winning
a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The follow-up to Future
Shock, also received a Grammy in the R&B instrumental category.
In addition to his Grammy and MTV Award successes, Hancock won
an Oscar in 1986 for scoring the film Round Midnight (in which he
also appeared as an actor). He would also compose soundtracks for
films such as Colors, Jo Jo Dancer, Action Jackson and Harlem Nights.
In 1984, Hancock signed to the Polygram Label. After an adventurous
pop-oriented project for Mercury Records, Dis Is Da Drum, he moved
on to Polygram’s Verve label, forming an all-star band to
record the 1996 Grammy-winning “The New Standard”.
In 1998, the legendary Headhunters reunited, recording an album
for Hancock’s own Verve-distributed imprint, and touring with
the Dave Matthews Band at the arena-rock giant’s own request.
But the crowning achievement of Herbie Hancock’s Verve years
thus far has been Gershwin’s World. Recorded and released
in 1998, this masterwork brought artists from all over the musical
spectrum together in a celebration of George Gershwin and his entire
artistic milieu. Collaborators included Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder,
Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter and
Chick Corea. Gershwin’s World won three Grammies in 1999,
including Best Traditional Jazz Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance
for Stevie Wonder’s “St. Louis Blues.”
At the end of 1999, Herbie joined two partners - his manager David
Passick and former Verve Records president Chuck Mitchell. They
would form ‘Transparent Music’, a multi-media music
company dedicated to the presentation of barrier-breaking music
of all types, at all tiers of distribution including recordings,
films and TV, concert events and the Internet.
Herbie Hancock also maintains a thriving career outside the performing
stage and recording studio. Since 1991, he has been the Distinguished
Artist in Residence at Jazz Aspen Snowmass in Colorado; a non-profit
organization devoted to the preservation and performance of jazz
and American music. Herbie also serves as Institute Chairman of
the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the foremost international
organization devoted to the development of jazz performance and
education worldwide. He has taken on a number of roles on behalf
of the institute, from competition judge to master class teacher,
to guest performer with the Institute's prestigious college program.
Now in the fifth decade of his professional life, Herbie Hancock
remains where he has always been: in the forefront of world culture,
technology, business and music. Though one can't track exactly where
he will go next, he is sure to leave his own inimitable creative
style and imprint wherever he lands.
River the joni letters - album
The words innovative genius could never be overused when describing
a man like Herbie Hancock. He has influenced (and still influences)
many generations of musicians, crossed genres and broken down musical
barriers as though they never existed in the first place. However,
Hancock’s recordings have not always hit the spot for me.
I have also attended a few Hancock live performances over the past
decade or so only to walk away scratching my head feeling somewhat
disappointed. Hancock never seems to fail to get into his zone,
but I have occasionally felt that I was completely excluded from
his zone. Perhaps this was due to me just not understanding, or
appreciating his technical prowess. Or perhaps I was (and possibly
still) too immature?
Whatever the reason for my occasional disappointment, I could never
ignore a new Herbie Hancock recording. The title “River”
certainly caught my attention…after all, you do not have to
be an aficionado of the ‘singer songwriter’ genre to
recognise and appreciate the name Joni Mitchell. After carefully
browsing the sleeve notes and personnel – And with eight of
the ten tracks being Mitchell compositions, my passion to explore
Hancock’s beguiling interlude on “Court and Spark”
was definitely a reassuring start and a fitting vehicle for the
dulcet tones of Norah Jones who delicately dances and weaves vocal
Initially it seemed as though the name Corine Bailey Rae seemed
a tad out of place amongst a line up of artists’ who could
possibly eat her alive musically, but after just seconds of listening
to her innocent delivery and gentle caress on Mitchell’s “River”,
I became completely absorbed and my heart simply melted. I realised
the decision to feature her at this point was a master stroke. Joni
Mitchell joins Hancock for an articulate session on “Tea Leaf
Prophecy”. It is Mitchell who is obviously best equipped emotionally
to deliver ‘her own words’.
Herbie Hancock is capable of many musical miracles. To entice Tina
Turner out of retirement is just one of them. Ms. Turner sounds
better than ever here - Adding her own unique sophisticated edge
to the velvet lined “Edith and the Kingpin”. Hopefully
this will be one of many projects Turner lends her voice too. Perhaps
Hancock & co could entice the likes of Sade to perform at Glastonbury…you
With other prized collaborators throughout this project such as
Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Lionel Loueke, Luciana Souza and the
authoritative spoken words of Leonard Cohen on “The Jungle
Line”, you expect no less than absolute musical ‘magicianship’.
And that is exactly what you get.
Hancock and fellow musicians have created an exquisitely crafted
canvas for Joni Mitchell’s colourful timeless poetry to breathe.
“River” the joni letters will certainly divide many
established Joni Mitchell fans, but will also bring new praise for
two inspirational geniuses – And let’s face it, Joni
Mitchell and Herbie Hancock can never receive too much praise!
A final note to those of you who still prefer to listen to music
on that warm, detail filled medium called vinyl. This album is available
on vinyl… but at a whopping £54!
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd