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Herbie Hancock

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Herbie Hancock Takin' Off album cover
3.84 | 53 ratings | 5 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1962

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Watermelon Man (7:09)
2. Three Bags Full (5:27)
3. Empty Pockets (6:09)
4. The Mazeb (6:45)
5. Driftin' (6:58)
6. Alone And I (6:25)

Total time 38:53

Bonus tracks on 1996 remaster:
7. Watermelon Man (alternate take) (6:33)
8. Three Bags Full (alternate take) (5:31)
9. Empty Pockets (alternate take) (6:27)

Line-up / Musicians

- Herbie Hancock / piano, composer

- Freddie Hubbard / trumpet
- Dexter Gordon / tenor saxophone
- Butch Warren / bass
- Billy Higgins / drums

Releases information

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 28, 1962.

Artwork: Reid Miles (photo & design)

LP Blue Note ‎- BLP 4109 (1962, US) Mono version
LP Blue Note ‎- BST 84109 (1962, US) Stereo version

CD Blue Note ‎- CDP 7 46506 2 (1987, US)
CD Blue Note ‎- 7243 8 37643 2 7 (1996, Europe) Remastered by Ron McMaster with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HERBIE HANCOCK Takin' Off ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

HERBIE HANCOCK Takin' Off reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars Herbie Hancock appeared in Chicago in 1940. And, he is accomplishing competing with the symphony orchestra in Chicago at the age of 11. It was 20-year-old time that he debuted as Pianist of Jazz. However, it was music and electronic engineering that he majored in at the university. It might be clear will be deeply related to his music character of the element.

It is said that he influenced Pianist of Jazz from Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. In him, the music character influenced was converted into an original sense of it was by the back. He might already have had the mind of the code and the song with a melody and a transparent feeling with the detailed consideration. And, progress and Harmony by complex harmony might be one of the methods of his expression.

The fact to which trumpeter's Donald Byrd was going to notice the existence of Hancock and to expand the width of the place of his performance was exactly lucky. And, Blue Note was introduced to Hancock by Byrd. Hancock that the name was not so known to the world until that time after it debuts will exactly get on the wave of the day. And, this album that had been recorded at the age of 22 became the leader album of the commemoration of Hancock.

At that time, the counterplan is exactly an album that splendidly digests distinguished services and merits and demerits of JazzGiants by Hancock in the flow that changes from BOP into the mode and works.

"Watermelon Man" collected to this album became one of the tunes of his representative. The certain tune ..funky tune with deriving original element from the flow of Jazz till then.. has finished. However, the expression of a composition and a soft sound with a transparent feeling consistently has been splendidly achieved if it thinks about the composition of the entire tune. The flow in which that is elegant might be proof that follows the element of the musician from whom he was influenced. And, the history of his music starts indeed from this album and will leave a lot of masterpieces for the history of Blue Note.

Review by Matthew T
4 stars The first session under his own name and what a backing band. Herbie was only 22 at the time and this is the album that has the first version of Watermelon Man. A timeless Jazz classic was penned by Herbie and the composition is used frequently in Latin Jazz as well as mainstream still today and is now considered a standard in Jazz.

Produced by Alfred Lion as usual and engineered by Rudy Van Gelder.The Superstar Dexter Gordon himself provides Tenor sax with his fantastic tone, Freddy Hubbard on trumpet and with the rythmn section of Butch Warren and Billy Higgins you know you are in for a treat.

Watermelon Man starts off proceedings and is by far the best composition on the album. Gospel based and simply as catchy as you can get. Freddie starts off the solos,followed by Dexter and then Herbie Same again on track 2 Three Bags Full listen for a quick Baa Black Sheep.

The Maze is quite an interesting piece and I dig Freddies solo and with a quick hit from Herbie,Dexter is on and then Herbie gives a lovely solo, great jazz.

Essential stuff for a Herbie Fan and also for anyone who likes good Jazz. Miles is to come for Herbie soon and Jazz immortatlity will be made in the famous Miles Davis Quintet

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hancock's debut solo album ( or in that time terminology - "as band leader"). Great hard -bop album of young piano player.

Watermelon Man, the opening track, became after a jazz standard for years! All acoustic album ( incl. trumpeter Freddie Hubbard) contains of 6 strong compositions. Herbie's musicianship is perfect, and all musicians are very competent.

Still without fusion traces, album is great work in later years of bop. Light, melodic ,with emotionally coloured brass soloing, it is perfect listening for any jazz lover. It made basis for Hancock few later solo albums.

Not too much interesting for electric fusion fans, this album is important for any jazz lover, or Hancock fan as well.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Takin' Off' - Herbie Hancock (7/10)

The official debut solo album of a man now considered a legend in jazz and popular music, Herbie Hancock shows should promising skills here with 'Takin' Off.' Primarily a hard-bop album, this young pianist hadn't yet incorporated the fusion style he is known for into his music, but what we have for is a sensible piece of jazz, with a couple of tracks that are now considered jazz standards. While Hancock's work would only improve from here, 'Takin' Off' is a pleasant listen, taking the rhythm n' blues style that had dominated the African American music scene to that point, and meshing it with the comparatively modern jazz sound that would dominate the man's career.

While this is indeed a work of Hancock's work, it would be foolish to deny the talent of the other musicians that have taken part in the work here. Although many of the album's hooks are conveyed through Herbie's sharp playing, there is some talented musicianship at the hands of the supporting caste here. While quite standard for the genre, each musician does bring a skilled sound to the table, with trumpeteer Freddie Hubbard in particular. There's an uplifting and charming sound here, and while the majority of the composition here is based around blues-based chord structures, the songwriting does work very well for some crafty jazz soloing overtop. The piano, saxophone and trumpet all get their turns to strut their stuff; pulling some catchy hooks into their tasteful soloing.

The music here might be a tad more memorable than on latter works, but it does feel quite a bit more tame than the more inventive jazz work that would come in Hancock's career. Things here are quite structured in terms of the jazz style (especially bop numbers like 'Watermelon Man') which makes it quite a bit less challenging to get into, but there are plenty of tasteful solos to keep things generally interesting throughout. Even this early on, it should have been clear that there were great things waiting for Hancock. A very pleasant piece of jazz music.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After performing on one album with the Pepper Adams & Donald Byrd Quintet, HERBIE HANCOCK wasted no time TAKIN' OFF into the limelight with his first solo release. Although this is basically a continuation of the hard bop found on the quintet's album, HERBIE is allowed to blossom here and he really stands out amongst the crowds of other hard boppers of the day. His signature piano playing isn't quite as funk-tinged as it would become in the 70s but it is already here gestating in this more traditional take on the contemporary jazz with top notch musicians to back him up. The duo horn section of Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon with bassist Butch Warren and drummer Billy Higgins prove that HERBIE HANCOCK was ready for prime time and luckily for him success came almost instantly.

The album kicks off with "Watermelon Man" which may sound familiar because it's the same tune that was re-recorded for his jazz n' funkfest album "Headhunters" which like this debut upped his stardom another few notches. This first version is a standard jazz bop affair with a nice and easy delivery going on. Fans of HERBIE's later jazz-fusion work may not be impressed with this album since this is a HERBIE HANCOCK going with the flow of the contemporary music scene but he does it with such panache and confidence that it is an excellent album that shows the promise of the diversifying sounds he would later embrace. I prefer the more upbeat songs myself and find the slower ballads less interesting, however the strong tracks alone make this more than a worthy listening experience for pure jazz lovers.

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