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.
Head Hunters was a pivotal point in Herbie Hancock's career, bringing him into the vanguard of jazz fusion. Hancock had pushed avant-garde boundaries on his own albums and with Miles Davis, but he had never devoted himself to the groove as he did on Head Hunters. Drawing heavily from Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and James Brown, Hancock developed deeply funky, even gritty, rhythms over which he soloed on electric synthesizers, bringing the instrument to the forefront in jazz.
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.
Astell&Kern, the leading hi res portable music player that boasts studio sound quality, has announced a special package partnership with Blue Note Records to commemorate the record company's 75th anniversary in the world of Jazz and Blues. 75 legendary Blue Note jazz albums that have been remastered in the Hi-Res digital format. Especially, five Blue Note albums make their exclusive hi-res audio debuts with this release: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers' Mosaic, Tina Brooks' True Blue, Don Cherry's Complete Communion, Andrew Hill's Point Of Departure, and Bobby Hutcherson's Components.
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.
Herbie Hancock's edition in the Columbia This Is Jazz series draws six tracks from the approximately 12-year period between 1974 and 1986. An electric band is featured on half of the selections, including "Gentle Thoughts" from Secrets, "Actual Proof" from Thrust, and "Calypso" from Mr. Hands. These aren't exactly the best tracks from Hancock's electric period, and the acoustic portion – covering "The Sorcerer" from a 1981 V.S.O.P. performance in Tokyo, the live duet "Maiden Voyage" by Hancock and Chick Corea, and "The Peacocks" from the 1986 film 'Round Midnight – are similarly erratic. All of the selections on This Is Jazz are good, but it doesn't make much sense to feature such a scattered set of tracks.