TAKIN' OFF (1962), Herbie Hancock's debut as a leader, holds up exceptionally well decades after its release, even in light of the vast, eclectic, and excellent solo catalogue that followed. Still in the thick of his groundbreaking work with Miles Davis, Hancock had already established himself as a pianist and composer of the first order, and those qualities shine on TAKIN' OFF. Flanked by superb personnel that includes trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Dexter Gordon, and drummer Billy Higgins, Hancock offers six excellent compositions (including the famous "Watermelon Man") that balance between adventurousness and the rigors of classic hard bop. The Rudy Van Gelder remaster, released in 2007, brings this classic back in glorious clarity.
Mirroring his onetime boss and mentor Miles Davis' own protean output, Herbie Hancock has explored hard bop, soul-jazz, fusion, funk-rock, soundtracks, hip-hop-inflected pop ("Rockit"), and many permutations in between. His early work for Blue Note, though, offers the best entrée for newcomers. Compiled from five of his albums for the label and covering a period from 1962-1968, this fine sampler includes highlights from his debut, Takin' Off ("Watermelon Man"), the classic Maiden Voyage (the title track and "Dolphin Dance"), and the early electric album Speak Like a Child (the title track and "Riot"). Add to this more indelible cuts like "Cantaloupe Island" and "One Finger Snap," not to mention the presence of numerous '60s jazz luminaries (Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Hank Mobley, Billy Higgins, et al.), and you have perfect way to get a taste of some of the best modern jazz committed to wax.
From the start of his solo recording career in 1962, when he was 22, Herbie Hancock was a very original pianist/composer. Strangely enough, despite the explorative nature of much of his music, Hancock was also quite accessible, recording the future hit "Watermelon Man" on his debut date. This six-CD set is a must for all jazz collectors who do not already own Hancock's Blue Note albums, for the box contains the complete contents of the pianist's albums Takin' Off, My Point of View, Inventions & Dimensions, Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage, Speak Like a Child, and The Prisoner.
After the phenomenal success of TAKIN' OFF, Herbie Hancock's second release for Blue Note was constructed in the mold of its predecessor. The tantalizing MY POINT OF VIEW offers many of the same early Hancock signature moments, but with an expanded palette that reflects the pianist's growing experience. A larger ensemble helped to broaden the range of this release as Blue Note regulars Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, and Grant Green add to Hancock's sonic textures. Also on board are the advanced trombonist Grachan Moncur III, Bill Evans' bassist Chuck Israels, and the young drum wonder Tony Williams.
So ubiquitous was UB40's grip on the pop-reggae market that it may have been difficult for younger fans to comprehend just how their arrival shook up the British musical scene. They appeared just as 2 Tone had peaked and was beginning its slide towards oblivion. Not that it mattered, as few would try to shoehorn the band into that suit…