"Possibilities" is an intimate documentary about Herbie Hancock and his in-studio collaborations with a dozen formidable pop recording artists, collaborations that explore the unexpected, like jazz improvisations. The film is also about how Herbie's unique world view shapes a creative environment that encourages artists to step outside the velvet prison of easy expectations. "The hip stuff," Herbie tells Trey Anastasio, in a scene from the film, "is outside the comfort zone." "Possibilities" follows Herbie over a year and a half collaborating with musical icons Carlos Santana, Sting, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox and Paul Simon, young superstars Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Trey Anastasio and Jonny Lang and newcomers Joss Stone, Raul Midon, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. The film also puts Herbie's latest work in the context of his extraordinary musical career, and includes rarely seen archival footage of Herbie with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1962; Herbie leading his Headhunters.
"Possibilities" is an intimate documentary about Herbie Hancock and his in-studio collaborations with a dozen formidable pop recording artists, collaborations that explore the unexpected, like jazz improvisations. The film is also about how Herbie's unique world view shapes a creative environment that encourages artists to step outside the velvet prison of easy expectations. "The hip stuff," Herbie tells Trey Anastasio, in a scene from the film, "is outside the comfort zone."
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.
Possibilities, by jazz piano/keyboard legend Herbie Hancock, with songs by Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and Leon Russell, is a multigenerational masterpiece. Rock's "it boy" John Mayer leads off the CD with the spare, bouncy opener, "Stitched Up." Brit-born soul girl Joss Stone and bluesman Jonny Lang get down on the gutbucket "When Love Comes to Town." Christina Aguilera’s excellent vocals illuminate "A Song for You." Not to be outdone, Annie Lennox delivers an operatic take on Holly Cole’s "Hush, Hush, Hush," while Sting's "Sister Moon" swings with stealthy syncopations. Santana and the Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo provide the world flavor on "Safiotou," and the dreamy "Gelo No Montana," with ex-Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, is the lone instrumental. Hancock’s tight solos and intelligent orchestral synths radiate all of the tracks. Like Frank Sinatra’s Duets and Ray Charles’s Genius Loves Company, Possibilities introduces Hancock to a new and awestruck generation. ~ Eugene Holley, Jr.
America/Brasil is a rollicking, celebratory album that keeps Herbie Mann on the winning streak he started with the release of Peace Pieces in 1995. Recorded during a week of concerts to mark his 65th birthday in April 1995, this disc is much stronger than its immediate predecessor, Celebration, also taken from the same week of live concert performances at New York's Blue Note jazz club. The material here is superb, and the playing top-notch. As the title implies, the emphasis here is on Mann's Brazilian side, but there are touches of the non-Brazilian with Bill Evans' "Peri's Scope" and Miles Davis' "All Blues." "Summertime" is recast in an Afro-Cuban mode with Paquito D'Rivera sharing the solo space on alto sax. However, lengthy Brazilian showstoppers are placed at the beginning, middle, and end of this wonderful disc. The opening "Keep the Spirits Singing" is propelled by the polyrhythmic pulse of percussionists Cyro Baptista and "Café," and the 17-minute title track finale features trumpeters Randy Brecker and Claudio Roditi, trombonist Jim Pugh, and guitarist Romero Lubambo.