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HERBIE HANCOCK

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Herbie Hancock biography
Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock - Born April 12, 1940 (Chicago, USA)

With a career that covers half of the 20th Century, and shows no sign of slowing down as we move further into the 21st, Herbie Hancock is one of the major music figures of our time. Within the world of progressive jazz/rock fusion he is topped only by Miles Davis when it comes to musical vision, but a bit ahead of Miles and all the rest when it comes to composition and soloing ability. Within the broader world of jazz music in general, his innovations on the piano place him in an elite group that includes Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Theolonius Monk, Bill Evans, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra. Herbie's piano playing brings together many influences including French impressionism and neo-classicism, Bill Evan's soft touch, Horace Silver's hard bop, McCoy Tyner's quartal voicings and Bud Powell's fast single note lines, and creates a personal style that is instantly recognizable even if you only hear him play one or two notes.

Herbie was born in 1940 and by the age of eleven was performing Mozart's Concerto in D Major in a children's concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When he was 20 Art Blakey picked him to join his Jazz Messengers. While with Blakey, Hancock learned how to play a mixture of RnB and jazz known as hard bop, a style that would later become the foundation for jazz fusion. Three years later Herbie was asked to join Miles' new quintet. During this time with Miles, Herbie, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams developed a totally new and unique way to play behind soloists. Disregarding the more conservative approach of their predecessors, these three didn't just keep time, instead they played with the rhythm and harmony in restless and constantly inventive ways. It was during this time that Herbie developed his unique comping style that combines French neo-classical harmonies with syncopated rhythms and African derived single note lines played in octaves. While with Miles, Herbie also put out several solo albums including some, such as 'Speak Like a Child', that include Herbie's arrangements for small jazz orchestras. His unique scoring for instrumental ensembles reveal the expected French influences, as well as an influence from Gil Evans' orchestrations for Miles Davis. These laid-back and impressionistic albums sound like cool future lounge music for the ultra hipster of tomorrow.

In 1971 Hancock formed his Sextet, an ultra-progressive group t...
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HERBIE HANCOCK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HERBIE HANCOCK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 53 ratings
Takin' Off
1962
3.38 | 26 ratings
My Point of View
1963
3.96 | 38 ratings
Inventions And Dimensions [Aka: Succotash]
1964
3.88 | 72 ratings
Empyrean Isles
1964
4.21 | 223 ratings
Maiden Voyage
1965
3.00 | 20 ratings
Blow-Up (OST)
1966
4.17 | 50 ratings
Speak Like A Child
1968
3.61 | 35 ratings
The Prisoner
1969
3.69 | 40 ratings
Fat Albert Rotunda
1969
3.13 | 11 ratings
Jammin' With Herbie [Aka: Rock Your Soul; Voyager]
1970
4.13 | 90 ratings
Mwandishi
1971
4.26 | 339 ratings
Crossings
1972
4.16 | 220 ratings
Sextant
1973
3.94 | 12 ratings
The Spook Who Sat By The Door (OST)
1973
3.95 | 255 ratings
The Herbie Hancock Group: Head Hunters
1973
4.12 | 137 ratings
Thrust
1974
3.66 | 26 ratings
Death Wish (OST)
1974
3.55 | 69 ratings
Man-Child
1975
3.11 | 47 ratings
Secrets
1976
3.21 | 15 ratings
The Herbie Hancock Trio
1977
2.77 | 16 ratings
Directstep
1978
2.62 | 32 ratings
Sunlight
1978
1.56 | 22 ratings
Feets Don't Fail Me Now
1979
3.52 | 18 ratings
The Piano
1979
2.40 | 17 ratings
Monster
1980
3.32 | 40 ratings
Mr. Hands
1980
3.32 | 15 ratings
Herbie Hancock Trio - With Ron Carter + Tony Williams
1981
1.57 | 14 ratings
Magic Windows
1981
1.53 | 15 ratings
Lite Me Up
1982
2.70 | 48 ratings
Future Shock
1983
2.89 | 19 ratings
Sound-System
1984
3.93 | 8 ratings
Herbie Hancock & Foday Musa Suso: Village Life
1985
3.04 | 14 ratings
Round Midnight (OST)
1986
1.92 | 17 ratings
Perfect Machine
1988
3.05 | 17 ratings
Dis Is Da Drum
1994
3.25 | 13 ratings
Herbie Hancock, W. Shorter, R. Carter, W. Roney & T. Williams: A Tribute To Miles
1994
3.08 | 22 ratings
The New Standard
1995
3.94 | 15 ratings
Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter: 1+1
1997
3.84 | 25 ratings
Gershwin's World
1998
2.17 | 16 ratings
Future 2 Future
2001
1.76 | 14 ratings
Possibilities
2005
4.00 | 21 ratings
River - The Joni Letters
2007
3.10 | 20 ratings
The Imagine Project
2010

HERBIE HANCOCK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
Hear, O Israel
1968
3.02 | 5 ratings
In Concert, Vol. 2 (with Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter and Eric Gale)
1973
2.24 | 6 ratings
Dedication
1974
3.18 | 28 ratings
Flood
1975
4.11 | 17 ratings
V.S.O.P.
1977
4.14 | 18 ratings
V.S.O.P.: The Quintet
1977
4.56 | 9 ratings
V.S.O.P.: Tempest in the Colosseum
1977
3.18 | 9 ratings
An Evening with Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea
1978
4.14 | 10 ratings
V.S.O.P.: Live Under the Sky
1979
3.92 | 7 ratings
CoreaHancock
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Night with Herbie Hancock
1980
3.19 | 7 ratings
Herbie Hancock Quartet
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
One Night With Blue Note, Volume 1 (with Bobby Hutcherson / James Newton)
1985
3.00 | 1 ratings
Jazz Africa (with Foday Musa Suso)
1986
3.50 | 2 ratings
Day Dreams
2002
3.86 | 7 ratings
Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live: Detroit/Chicago
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Omaha Civic Auditorium 17th November 1975
2015

HERBIE HANCOCK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Future2Future Live
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Watermelon Man
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Herbie Hancock & the New Standard Allstars in Japan
2008

HERBIE HANCOCK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Herbie Hancock
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Treasure Chest
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kawaida (with Don Cherry)
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
Herbie Hancock
1975
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Herbie Hancock
1979
5.00 | 4 ratings
Live Under the Sky
1981
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Essential Herbie Hancock
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Best of Herbie Hancock
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Time Vol. 2 - Herbie Hancock
1989
2.91 | 2 ratings
the Very best Of Herbie hancock
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Quartet Live
1994
4.75 | 8 ratings
Cantaloupe Island
1994
4.08 | 10 ratings
Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Blow Up Extra-Sessions
1995
2.00 | 1 ratings
Then & Now: The Definitive Herbie Hancock
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Late Night Jazz Favorites
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Watermelon Man The Ultimate Hancock!
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Broadcast Collection 1973 - 1983
2017

HERBIE HANCOCK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Watermelon Man / Three Bags Full
1962
1.83 | 6 ratings
Rockit
1983

HERBIE HANCOCK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blow-Up (OST) by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1966
3.00 | 20 ratings

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Blow-Up (OST)
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DangHeck

3 stars This is the Hancock-composed soundtrack to the Michelangelo Antonioni film of the same name (1966). There are some certain shining moments here, for sure. The degree to which this will appeal to your average "prog rock music collector", though, is unknown to me. It will appeal to those fans of perhaps Proto-Prog, but even that is a stretch. The most notable thing to me here is the incredible lineup featured. Next to Herbie, we have such Jazz greats as Freddie Hubbard, Phil Woods, Joe Henderson, Jim Hall, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette. Good Lord. Sorry to say that I don't know Joe Newman, but it appears that I really should... Paul Griffin has appeared on The Royal Scam and Aja by Steely Dan! Apparently involved in a lot of rootsy music, otherwise. And to think that British trumpeter Ian Carr of Nucleus was nearly on this as well! [Herbie scrapped the idea of using those British musicians with whom he, in the least, rehearsed this material.] One track, "Stroll On", was performed by The Yardbirds, and, I would say most significantly, it features both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.

"Blow-Up", the main theme, is a pretty great opener. A mix of sort of rockin' feel with awesome jazz instrumentation in its (short-lived) latter half. Perhaps, if anything. there's some parallels to what was done by contemporary bands like The Free Spirits. "Verushka, Pt. 1" really had nothing to offer. Its second part was far more sultry and slower paced. That track features a tenor solo by the great Joe Henderson.

Following "Verushka", "Bring Down the Birds" brings back the more rockin' instrumentation, driven by the straight-ahead drums and Jim Hall's rhythm guitar. Another stellar solo here, this time by Woods on Alto. Some more very of-the-time jazz on one of the more satisfying numbers, "The Naked Camera", we are then back to a quieted moment on the soft "Jane's Theme".

The one track different from the rest in just about every way is the Garagey, straight-ahead Rock song by The Yardbirds, "Stroll On". This is certainly, too, far from their finest moment... The guitar solo, I assume performed by Page, is definitely the best part.

We return to swingin' '60s Jazz on "The Thief", a rolling number prominently featuring organ. This track, in the middle-to-end, features a sort of low-lying Post-Bop section [I'm speaking here with more confidence than I should...]. Not a whole lot to say or see here. We then return to the feeling and softness on "The Kiss", with a light solo from Hall. This is matched then with a blazing and loud solo from (what I can tell) Henderson. "Curiosity" feels a whole lot like something off of Kind of Blue, perhaps. Very lovely.

We get into something that is stylistically rather interesting on "Thomas Studies Photos"... Very cool. It's hard for my mind, personally, to not go to the Wazoo era for Zappa. I know I've made similar comparisons previously. Believe me when I say, I would have loved it for longer than its minute runtime... Real beauty and grace is featured on the next, "The Bed", featuring an airiness from our rhythm section and acoustic piano from Herbie. Frisson, baby! So lovely and sweet. This then is juxtaposed sharply by the strong, forward-running "Blow-Up (End Title)", our brief album closer.

 Flood by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Live, 1975
3.18 | 28 ratings

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Flood
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I feel like this double live album should be rated a lot higher but I'm not helping here with my 3 stars. Released in 1975 we get seven tracks with two from "Head Hunters" and three from the previous year's "Thrust" making up the bulk of this recording. The music is from two concerts they did in Japan on June 28 and July 1, 1975. A six piece with Hancock, Maupin, Jackson, Summers, Clark and McKnight. So yes we get our share of funk here especially on "Chameleon".

"Maiden Voyage" is a classy tune which really isn't my thing as we get flute and piano dominating. Love the drumming on "Actual Proof" but a top two has to include "Spank-A-Lee" from "Thrust". Maupin makes his presence known early as the guitar comes and goes. Hancock is announced during the song after 3 minutes and proceeds to rip it up on the clavinet. So much going on 5 minutes in to the end. So impressive. "Butterfly" is okay as Herbie announces "A pretty tune for the beautiful ladies of Tokyo." Mellow stuff. The almost 20 minute closer from "Man-Child" called "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" is the other top two. I don't have that album but man I like this track.

It's just not quite a four star record for me and man how good would a live album of their "Mwandishi" period be Mr. Hancock? Would have been pretty awesome, but if your big on the "Head Hunters" period you should enjoy this.

 Crossings by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.26 | 339 ratings

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Crossings
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DangHeck

3 stars I rated this when I wasn't regularly reviewing, so... Here's my review! This is Herbie's tenth solo studio album, released 1972, and is a landmark of this period. As with Mwandishi before it, Crossings is an Avant-garde Jazz album with the beginnings of his own adventures into Fusion. And just like it, this album has just three longform tracks. This is a star-studded cast of musicians, featuring Eddie Henderson on horns, Bennie Maupin on numerous reeds, Julian Priester on trombones and bass, Buster Williams on bass, and Billy Hart on drums. All performers were responsible for percussion in addition to whatever their primary instruments were, as should be of no surprise given my descriptions of the tracks below. Patrick Gleeson is featured performing Moog synthesizer.

The first of these tracks is the almost 25 minute long "Sleeping Giant", which is, at first, an experimentation with various rhythms, reminiscent to me immediately of Steve Reich. It is almost 3 minutes until we hear other instrumentation. Ultimately, it's minimal, but there is a lot going on at once. Super funky, this also feels very tribal. Everything is driving full-speed ahead. Aside from the barrage of percussive elements, the main thrust is Herbie's electric keys and Buster's double bass (I assume it's not electric). It shifts firmly around minute 11 to a very danceable rhythm. It drops away and in minute 13, we return to the funk. I just gotta have it! An absolutely awesome performance is featured here by Bennie Maupin on sax... So sweet.

Up next, "Quasar"! This track in its intro has a different sort of classical vibe. As my girlfriend just said, it does have a sort of whimsy about it haha. A tad eerie, no? Something in this hearkens back to the spacy vibe throughout Bitches Brew, but to me also calls Sun Ra to mind. Regardless, super Avant-garde on this'n.

More eeriness happens on... of course it is... on "Water Torture", our third and final track. This song is dually spacy, featuring more prominently(?) that Moog from Gleeson. A very nice touch. More callbacks here, I feel, to Bitches Brew... but what else? Unsure. I think my main issue, if I can say so, is that these last two tracks are very singularly focused. They're sonically interesting, for sure, but Papa needs more compositional interest. 'Nuff said?

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

 Death Wish (OST) by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.66 | 26 ratings

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Death Wish (OST)
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I remember the TV ads for this movie back in the day, I would have been around 13 or so. This is the soundtrack for that movie called Death Wish starring Charles Bronson. The music here sounds nothing like Herbie Hancock so it's not worth getting for that until we get to that final track and all that orchestral and classical sounding music stops finally. THE HEADHUNTERS are the backing band you could say and that has to be Bennie Maupin then playing the only horn on here on the closer. So good. The song is called "Fill Your Hand" and it's head and shoulders above the rest. Herbie Hancock and Jerry Peters share the conducting duties on the rest of the album.

I'm just not a fan of orchestral music and to make it worse we get these sweeping disco sounds front and centre on the opener and elsewhere. I guess this is what we got with most soundtracks in the 70's, those classical and orchestral sounds. A low 3 stars for me.

 Herbie Hancock & the New Standard Allstars in Japan by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Herbie Hancock & the New Standard Allstars in Japan
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars In 1996 legendary American jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (b. 1940) released an album called The New Standard, based on rather contemporary pop compositions instead of the usual 'standards', Gershwin, Porter and such from the earlier decades. In August 3rd the same year, Hancock and his co- musicians performed music from that album at Kawaguchi Lake Jazz Festival, Japan. This 71-minute DVD contains five pieces plus three interview clips in between them.

The boring-looking DVD release itself has very minimal amount of information; it was one of the interview clips that led me to the mentioned album, after which I checked the original song writers from the PA album page. 'New York Minute' (Don Henley et al.) and 'You've Got It Bad Girl' (Stevie Wonder) weren't that familiar to me, but the other three I knew in advance as songs: The Beatles classic 'Norwegian Wood', Peter Gabriel's 'Mercy Street' and Sade's 'Love Is Stranger Than Pride'.

Each interpretation (between 9 and nearly 16 minutes in length) is full-bred jazz with lots of improvisational extensions, and often the listener recognizes the tune only momentarily when the players return to the song's main melody. The sextet is Hancock on piano, John Scofield on electric guitar, Michael Brecker on tenor sax, Dave Holland on double bass, Jack De Johnette on drums and Don Alias on percussion. They play brilliantly together. This is exactly what good live jazz is: boundary-breaking, fresh, organic, virtuotic ensemble playing. Composition-wise, a pop song is just a starting point. Each piece functions well. Only on 'Mercy Street', so dear to me as Peter Gabriel's deeply moving original song, it took a bit longer to adjust my ears to this livelier and faster interpretation.

An A class jazz concert musically, but the DVD could have been fancier in every aspect. The camera work is of average level, concentrating mostly on playing hands.

 The Herbie Hancock Group: Head Hunters by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.95 | 255 ratings

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The Herbie Hancock Group: Head Hunters
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars My previous review of John Coltrane's Giant Steps gave me the idea to theme the next few reviews of mine around looking into the common entry points for jazz , so the obvious next step in my eyes was to review what is basically the quintessential entry point into jazz fusion and overall one of the most accessible jazz albums in general. I feel that part of the reason for the approachable nature of the album comes from how hard the album leans into funk throughout, leading to a plethora of incredibly fun, catchy moments that offset the more improvisational moments that often seem to be what will push away newcomers to the genre. It's made all the better by the fact that it does this while also just sounding great in general, still sounding like an intricate, well put together album, just one that's very immediate in its appeal.

The album starts off with what is very comfortably the best track, Chameleon, immediately drawing the listener in with it's masterful bassline, which while quite simple also carries such an insane groove to it that I find it hard to not immediately love it. This is further accentuated by the way that every other component of the song serves almost purely as ways to further elevate the bass of this, making an already great aspect of the song feel that much better. I also noticed that this track does the same thing as another classic Hancock song, Cantaloupe Island, where the tempo steadily increases, but does it in a subtle enough way that it's completely plausible to not pick up on this, but still feel as if it's intensifying. Watermelon Man is a more traditionally jazzy song, with a lot more focus one just jamming out, with a lot of the funkier aspects still being there, but nowhere near as prominent, accompanying the other elements rather than being the core focus of it. All in all very fun and chilled out, I like the instrumentation choices as well, with the broad range of percussion such as the surdo and agogo bells giving it quite a unique sound.

After the more slow paced nature of Watermelon Man, Sly goes for the completely opposite approach, being blisteringly fast paced and intense, the initial groove quickly being abandoned for wild interplay that feels as if it keeps spiralling further and further out of control. While not as amazingly crafted as Chameleon, depending on the day this honestly surpasses it for me, although barely, especially with how smoothly it transitions back into the melody from its intro, bringing it all together extremely nicely. The album closes off with Vein Melter, a track I find both great but also a bit disappointing, being far more conventionally jazz fusion compared to the extremely fun funkiness of everything else here. I also feel like for something with a title as cool sounding as Vein Melter, the lack of intensity here is a bit of a letdown. Even so, this is definitely one that grows on you, initially feeling quite boring, but gradually revealing its greatness, especially in how relaxing it is, bringing the album to a close in what's probably not the most representative way, but it still works regardless and serves as a cool down after the intensity of Sly.

In the end, this works incredibly well as an entry point into jazz fusion and even jazz in general, with a great amount of variation in between the 4 tracks keeping things fresh, while also ensuring that it all sticks to a consistent sound and aesthetic, giving some cohesion to the variation. This is just a very consistent fun time that's honestly something I consider essential to demonstrate the more accessible side of the genre, so I strongly recommend this extremely vibrant, colourful album.

Best tracks: Chameleon, Sly

Weakest tracks: Though still great, Vein Melter is a bit weaker than the rest.

 Monster by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.40 | 17 ratings

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Monster
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars In the jazz world few have been as prolific, long lasting and diverse in their output as HERBIE HANCOCK who rocketed into stardom at a young age by playing with Donald Byrd and later Miles Davis and has innovated the jazz world every step of the way. Starting all the way back in 1962 he debuted as a solo act with 'Takin' Off' and has released over 50 albums to date and although there have been some true gems in that musical haystack there have been a few detours from the jazz world that have left more than one hardcore fan scratching their head wondering what in the world HERBIE was smoking when he thought THAT was a great idea.

HANCOCK's career can roughly be broken into three phases. His traditional jazz period lasted from his debut and lasted to his 1970 release 'The Prisoner' but starting with his following album 'Fat Albert Rotunda' a new phase began that incorporated funk and fusion elements which spawned some of his most celebrated era for prog oriented fans with the Mwandishi Trilogy followed by a series of funk jazz classics including 'Head Hunters.' The late 70s was like an acid trip gone wrong for many jazz and progressive rock artists that dominated the early 70s though and many artists that created some of the most magnificent music within those genres suddenly got all weird and experimental and not always in a good way.

After a short return to pure jazz, HANCOCK caught the disco bug and released two albums of danceable funk soul disco starting with 1979's 'Feets Don't Fail Me Now' and quickly followed by this following MONSTER that came out the next year. Obviously influenced by 70s soul and funk like Earth, Wind & Fire more contemporary dance floor booty shakers like Michael Jackson, Donna Summer and Chic, MONSTER belies its scary album title and shows HANCOCK crafting a rather by-the-numbers tribute to the aforementioned acts (and similar ones) made somewhat interesting by the inclusion of numerous guests including Carlos Santana giving a guitar performance, soul session bassist Freddie Washington and vocalist Oren Waters who is most famous for singing with the backup group The Waters.

For a funk oriented disco album this one is unusual in that it contains only six tracks with four passing the seven minute mark however this isn't progressive disco or anything of the sort. This is an album's worth of funk guitar rhythms, reserved keyboards that often imitates horn sections and disco percussive beats accompanied by smooth soulful vocals from several different singers. While jazz is hardly the focus here it's not completely absent it's more of a sampled jazz pop kept from getting too wild in the confines of a funk groove. Despite being a HANCOCK solo album, HERBIE's contributions are rather low key and the prime emphasis is on the vocals and danceable beats designed for passive listening at dance parties. There are also a few moments of rock guitar bombast but never out of context with the main dance / funk rhythmic drive.

While it sounds like a horrible idea as a hardcore progger and jazz stalwart i'm certainly not put off by simpler music with soulful lyrics and steady beats it's not the kind of album you'd expect from one of the fusion masters of jazz. MONSTER is a decent listen with some great tunes like 'Stars In Your Eyes' and 'Making Love' which will really get your girl in the mood on a romantic evening. I can't say that MONSTER really stands out from the plethora of similarly sounding albums of the era and fails to produce any real zingers that make you want to return for listens.

As a delver into all musical expressions, especially from the African-American point of view, i can understand why HERBIE wanted to scratch his itch by recording a couple soulful dance albums but i think it's safe to say that for all the jazz purists and fusion freaks, this won't come close to the top of their favorites list for HERBIE HANCOCK albums. This era would start the era of HANCOCK's unpredictable output but at this point its' safe to conclude that his best works remained in the past. While HERBIE HANCOCK will surely never be known for his short detour into the world of disco, i have to admit that this album is pretty decently performed and recorded. On the newer remastered editions are several bonus tracks but in the end i'm quite satisfied with owning the original six tune release because that's about all i can really handle of this.

 Sextant by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.16 | 220 ratings

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Sextant
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by trickert

5 stars This is a deep and transformative record. It pulls from trends and innovations ongoing since the 60s in jazz, funk, prog, psychedelia, electronics, and embeds it in an Afro-Futurist framework of real visionary truth and achievement. Very free flowing in some respects--some people have made connections to Krautrock, and that's not wrong--but this is anchored in a very different and specifically American and black sensibility. Glorious bass work flows through the whole album, including some amazing fuzz bass; there's tons of improvisation in horns, keys, and drums. But the point is that all of it grounded in the groove, which never lets up, even as it shifts and morphs. It can take a while to get the complexities and feel how it all hangs together--but that's no different than, say, the first time you put Yes' *Relayer* on the turntable. This record is not song-oriented, though, so it requires a different kind of attunement. But is is so worth it. Dark, heavy, and yet also with great beams of light, it brings together a tremendous sense of jazz-funk groove with improvisational horns and electronics (including mellotron!!!) that is, for me at least, one of the highpoints of early 70s prog, jazz, and funk. An amazing record, and if you want to know it's true meaning, consider the title: Sextant. HH was a navigator, and his vision for the future--an Afro-Futurist future of freedom--still sounds out true and powerful.
 Sextant by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.16 | 220 ratings

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Sextant
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lore Knowledge

4 stars Easily the best Hancock album. I am not a jazz fan but it's so good that I like it a lot and treat it more like progressive rock music. I know it's not rock but the vibe is somehow rockish. Traditional jazz sounds very old to me and even being 40+ I still feel too young for it. This one on the other hand even after 46 years sounds fresh and exciting. Look at the album cover. The music is like that cover. First of all it's crazy, it's colourful, it's erotic like those dancers. Some strange noises here and there that's the electronic part of it. Mad moon calling, dance in the rain like a madman (just kidding, simply have fun). Listen with care.
 Crossings by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.26 | 339 ratings

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Crossings
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars After leaving Blue Note Records in 1969, HERBIE HANCOCK was commissioned to compose the soundtrack for the Bill Cosby animated television special 'Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert' which allowed him to move beyond his primarily pure jazz realm of post- bop and modal jazz and find new ways to unleash his creative expressions with his former employer Miles Davis in the world of jazz- fusion. While Davis was creating impressionist surrealism with his adventures into the jazz-rock hybrid paradigm, HANCOCK on the other hand was lured into the possibilities of a funk-jazz fusion resulting from his admiration of Sly & The Family Stone. After signing on to Warner Bros. he would release his first fusion album 'Fat Albert Rotunda' in 1969 which would set the stage for his entire run through the 70s but after that album was released he got more ambitious as his interest in Sun Ra's avant-garde explorations started to enter the picture along with various strains of electronic music.

With 1971's 'Mwandishi' HANCOCK ventured into a complex trilogy of albums named after the first edition. On that album he employed the talents of bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart, and a trio of horn players: Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), and multi-reedist Bennie Maupin which despite resulting in a lackluster sales performance still managed to garner critical acclaim. For the second offering of the Mwandishi Trilogy, HANCOCK wanted to spruce it up a bit with extra doses of electronica. Patrick Gleeson was scheduled to audition for some key parts but HANCOCK was blown away by his uncanny command of the instrument and how he could make the music talk in ways he'd never experienced and thus Gleeson joined the band as the seventh member and appeared on the next two albums beginning with HANCOCK's tenth overall album in the canon called CROSSINGS.

In addition to the seven main members, there are additional performers with congas and chorus vocals. The opening track 'Sleeping Giant' was monumental in scope. The near 25 minute track opens in an eruption of tribal percussion as if a war dance were being performed in the distant deepest jungles of the Congo. This newest development displaysed HANCOCK's infatuation with the percussive explorations of Sun Ra's avant-garde jazz escapades that quietly fueled the underground jazz world of the 60s. While the percussive drive is completely outside the purview of the lockstep orthodoxies that the jazz world had settled into, the orgy of pummeling drums and congas juxtaposes the ancient traditional African rhythms alongside more sanctioned modern jazz styles. The track subtly introduces electronic counterpoints until it finally erupts in the fully fueled funk fusion that provides the main harmonic drive throughout the album.

'Sleeping Giant' signifies a contemplative spiritual journey of the African diaspora experience as displayed by the album cover art of Robert Springett who would continue producing eye catching cover art for HANCOCK for the rest of the 70s. The album is basically split between this lengthy track, originally as the entire side one on vinyl which was written by HANCOCK while the second side which contains the other two tracks were written by Maupin. Around the seven minute mark the percussion ceases and it becomes a spacier form of spiritual jazz with both modal styled keyboard tinkling but the funk bass wrests control of the formless fluttering about of the angularity and nudges the the rhythmic groove back into the a more structured flow as if playing tug-of-war with the horn section's desire to go fully freeform. Eventually the funk wins as it sounds more like the completely controlled funk fusion of the 'Fat Albert Rotunda' album. The track continues to drift in and out of funk and spacier airy fairy jazz until it reaches its conclusion.

The middle track 'Quasar' is by far the shortest of the three but still extending past the seven minute mark. A much more avant-jazz track, this one evokes the most 'out there' moments of Sun Ra's works such as 'Strange Strings' that eschew any known confines of tradition but the track slowly takes on more recognizable acoustic jazz characteristics with a plethora of freaky Moog sounds sputtering around like overdosing drug addicts at a party gone wrong tripping their brains out aimlessly about. Despite some of the moments of funk and fleeting moments of melody, 'Quasar' wins as the most surreal track on the album award as it evokes its namesake of a distant starlike extragalactic object with moments of clarity randomly emerging from the static. This is really a weird track as the talking trumpets seem to be communicating with the acoustic jazz bass and funk-tinged keyboards. The ambient backdrop keeps the track in a constant state of distant surreality.

The second longest track is the grand finale 'Water Torture' which rightfully begins with some sounds emulating flowing water and a rather erratic tribal beat as if a surprise attack is eminent. There is a lot of effort thrown into the intricately designed percussion as it casts a spell to paint the dots of the picture that the wind instruments and Moog sounds fill in with shades of colorful timbres and dynamics and even has moments of progressive big band fury. While it may not seem possible after the hypnotic unpredictability of 'Quasar,' this track of almost fourteen minutes evokes the ultimate psychedelic journey into the world of jazz where cohesion and complete breakdown drift in and out of sync. Once again, the adventurous Earthly detachment of Sun Ra's influence is on display however the moments of funk, fleeting melodies and playfulness of the timbres, rhythms and dynamics showcase HANCOCK's idiosyncratic journey into similar musical arenas but treads his own sliver of this avant-sector of the jazz- fusion world.

While the following 'Sextant' would take things into the even stranger and more complex world of the avant-garde, CROSSINGS as its name implies is the perfect crossroads of sort for the funk-jazz fusion affairs of the previous two albums and even the complete abandonment of the paradigm set even on the 'Mwandishi' album. CROSSINGS is really one of those albums that you simply have to experience to understand and not only experience once but many times in different moods and allow the various other-worldly effects to sink in. This is not an easy listening album to say the least as it entwines so many different music genres and twists them into new multi-faceted creations that sound like no other even within the Mwandishi Trilogy itself. Given the complexity of the music it would seem there may be some classical influences underlying its magnanimous ability to continue an almost imperceptible melodic flow to the album's lengthy run as if the melodies themselves were twisted until obfuscation darkened all but the fleeting few that were allowed to surface from their banishment into another dimension. Hauntingly beautiful, CROSSINGS was a major achievement that would only be topped by the 'Sextant' album that followed.

Thanks to Easy Money for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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