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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)

3.83 | 49 ratings
Takin' Off
1962
3.41 | 22 ratings
My Point of View
1963
3.96 | 34 ratings
Inventions And Dimensions [Aka: Succotash]
1964
3.85 | 64 ratings
Empyrean Isles
1964
4.21 | 208 ratings
Maiden Voyage
1965
3.03 | 17 ratings
Blow-Up (OST)
1966
4.19 | 45 ratings
Speak Like A Child
1968
3.62 | 35 ratings
The Prisoner
1969
3.68 | 37 ratings
Fat Albert Rotunda
1969
3.23 | 12 ratings
Jammin' With Herbie [Aka: Rock Your Soul; Voyager]
1970
4.11 | 83 ratings
Mwandishi
1971
4.28 | 319 ratings
Crossings
1972
4.15 | 200 ratings
Sextant
1973
3.97 | 12 ratings
The Spook Who Sat By The Door (OST)
1973
3.95 | 234 ratings
The Herbie Hancock Group: Head Hunters
1973
4.12 | 125 ratings
Thrust
1974
3.89 | 25 ratings
Death Wish (OST)
1974
3.55 | 66 ratings
Man-Child
1975
3.09 | 42 ratings
Secrets
1976
3.21 | 15 ratings
The Herbie Hancock Trio
1977
2.82 | 15 ratings
Directstep
1978
2.67 | 30 ratings
Sunlight
1978
1.51 | 20 ratings
Feets Don't Fail Me Now
1979
3.51 | 17 ratings
The Piano
1979
2.40 | 17 ratings
Monster
1980
3.29 | 36 ratings
Mr. Hands
1980
3.35 | 15 ratings
Herbie Hancock Trio - With Ron Carter + Tony Williams
1981
1.58 | 12 ratings
Magic Windows
1981
1.42 | 12 ratings
Lite Me Up
1982
2.72 | 44 ratings
Future Shock
1983
2.98 | 17 ratings
Sound-System
1984
3.96 | 8 ratings
Herbie Hancock & Foday Musa Suso: Village Life
1985
3.00 | 12 ratings
Round Midnight (OST)
1986
1.88 | 15 ratings
Perfect Machine
1988
3.04 | 15 ratings
Dis Is Da Drum
1994
3.28 | 13 ratings
Herbie Hancock, W. Shorter, R. Carter, W. Roney & T. Williams: A Tribute To Miles
1994
3.04 | 18 ratings
The New Standard
1995
3.94 | 15 ratings
Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter: 1+1
1997
3.80 | 21 ratings
Gershwin's World
1998
2.17 | 16 ratings
Future 2 Future
2001
1.74 | 11 ratings
Possibilities
2005
3.97 | 16 ratings
River - The Joni Letters
2007
3.11 | 19 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
3.00 | 4 ratings
In Concert, Vol. 2 (with Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter and Eric Gale)
1973
2.20 | 6 ratings
Dedication
1974
3.20 | 23 ratings
Flood
1975
4.09 | 16 ratings
V.S.O.P.
1977
4.14 | 17 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
3.15 | 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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Day Dreams
2002
4.00 | 6 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
3.95 | 2 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
4.67 | 6 ratings
Cantaloupe Island
1994
4.07 | 8 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
2.00 | 5 ratings
Rockit
1983

HERBIE HANCOCK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 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 | 234 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
4.15 | 200 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
4.15 | 200 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
4.28 | 319 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.

 Sextant by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.15 | 200 ratings

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Sextant
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Trevere

5 stars Pulse. Feel. Timing. These are the building blocks of rhythm as currently known, and Herbie Hancock's Sextant gets down to the nitty-gritty of it. Borrowing unabashedly from tribal percussion, Hancock and his Mwandishi-era octet pursue a bare rhythmic feel, strongly recalling African drum circles and early forms of music itself. However, they do this in an incredibly innovative and particular way, as they not only utilize acoustic percussion but also from modular synthesizers and electronic drums. The resulting product is a delightful show of rhythm, in which the octet put forth a futuristic but fundamental-based sound like nothing before it; it's as if the listener is attaining a small glimpse of what tribal music will sound like hundreds of years from now. On top of the percussive elements, the octet also pushes the futuristic feel with electronic soundscapes which enhance the advanced harmonic concepts played by the band. Mellotrons, clavinets, and a variety of synthesizers (as well as an occasional acoustic piano) played by Hancock provide a solid foundation whilst texturizing the music further. The rest of the members melodically play off the keys with a variety of instruments. These range from saxophones, clarinets, and trumpets to flugelhorns and Hum-A-Zoos. Naturally, a huge array of sonic capabilities is explored on the record, resulting in an incredible amount of color through sound. Vivid Avant-tinged soundscapes are thrust on the listener throughout the album's 40-minute runtime in an unapologetically brazen manner. Although Sextant fascinates with its unique sound, it can be slightly overwhelming at times. The mixture and modernization of the wide range of musical ideas seen on the record is rather jarring at times, proving undeniably esoteric. However, the record is more rewarding because of it, as musical ideas can be extrapolated from it in a seemingly endless fashion. New themes and concepts transpire with each new listen. Sextant, Herbie's most innovative outing, is a truly remarkable album that cannot be properly experienced until heard, and it is absolutely advisable one does so. Time to groove.
 Crossings by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.28 | 319 ratings

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Crossings
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Trevere

5 stars Pulse. Feel. Timing. These are the building blocks of rhythm as currently known, and Herbie Hancock's Sextant gets down to the nitty-gritty of it. Borrowing unabashedly from tribal percussion, Hancock and his Mwandishi-era octet pursue a bare rhythmic feel, strongly recalling African drum circles and early forms of music itself. However, they do this in an incredibly innovative and particular way, as they not only utilize acoustic percussion but also from modular synthesizers and electronic drums. The resulting product is a delightful show of rhythm, in which the octet put forth a futuristic but fundamental-based sound like nothing before it; it's as if the listener is attaining a small glimpse of what tribal music will sound like hundreds of years from now.

On top of the percussive elements, the octet also pushes the futuristic feel with electronic soundscapes which enhance the advanced harmonic concepts played by the band. Mellotrons, clavinets, and a variety of synthesizers (as well as an occasional acoustic piano) played by Hancock provide a solid foundation whilst texturizing the music further. The rest of the members melodically play off the keys with a variety of instruments. These range from saxophones, clarinets, and trumpets to flugelhorns and Hum-A-Zoos. Naturally, a huge array of sonic capabilities is explored on the record, resulting in an incredible amount of color through sound. Vivid Avant-tinged soundscapes are thrust on the listener throughout the album's 40-minute runtime in an unapologetically brazen manner.

Although Sextant fascinates with its unique sound, it can be slightly overwhelming at times. The mixture and modernization of the wide range of musical ideas seen on the record is rather jarring at times, proving undeniably esoteric. However, the record is more rewarding because of it, as musical ideas can be extrapolated from it in a seemingly endless fashion. New themes and concepts transpire with each new listen. Sextant, Herbie's most innovative outing, is a truly remarkable album that cannot be properly experienced until heard, and it is absolutely advisable one does so. Time to groove.

 Thrust by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.12 | 125 ratings

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Thrust
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars After getting his feet wet, Herbie Hancock approached Miles Davis to join in one of his line-ups in 1963, and helped to build up his rhythm section at the time. The section he built up was a young one, but it turned out they were quite effective, and Hancock began his professional music career off of that experience. Almost immediately, he was in the public eye, and when he struck out as a solo artist for Blue Note Records a year later, he really had no problem getting his name and reputation out there. He worked with Miles Davis until 1968 and expanded his solo career at the same time. By 1969, he had built up his reputation enough to record under his own name, or under various project names.

In 1973, he formed The Headhunters, and soon released an album under that name. This new funky sound helped him expand his fan base by crossing over to pop genres. His mix of jazz, pop, r&b, soul and funk was present on this album and it turned out to be a big hit, thus spawning other albums.

The 2nd album under The Headhunters name was 'Thrust' released in 1974 and it continued the sound started with the successful and acclaimed 'Head Hunters' album. It also turned out to be a huge selling album and is still considered relevant and important today. It consists of 4 tracks spanning a total run time of 38 minutes.

'Palm Grease' starts by establishing a beat and is soon joined by percussion and a funky synth, adding some bass and later sax and keyboards playing the main hook together. The tenor sax later takes over improvising off of the main riff, with plenty of keys supporting and at times taking over the lead. The catchy rhythm and flashy percussion carries it all forward and make the sound very appealing and accessible, but Hancock hadn't totally let the simple theme carry his tracks yet, so there is still plenty of real jazz improvisation to keep things interesting.

Hancock's 1973 album was a soundtrack for the controversial movie 'The Spook Who Sat By the Door' which was also a highly acclaimed album. The next track on 'Thrust' which is called 'Actual Proof' was originally written for that soundtrack. This track is less funky, but still quite upbeat and driven more by jazz and to a lesser degree, r&b. A fast moving bass line drives the solo keyboards (Fender Rhodes electric piano) that highlight most of this track. The feel is much more progressive with some interesting competing meters between the improvisation and the rhythm section. This is not just a great example of Hancock's abilities on the electric piano, but is also an example of how he was able to make the rhythm section that supports improvisation much more interesting thus making the overall sound much more vibrant and dynamic. This style of having a complex rhythm section underneath the solo instrument was all started by Hancock when he worked with Miles Davis and is one of the things that made Hancock so important and popular in those days. This track doesn't really expand on other solo instrumentation until later in the 2nd half of the track when the alto flute gets a chance to show off a bit.

'Butterfly' is a much slower groove starting out featuring the bass clarinet and alto sax playing the main theme together. Of course, the rhythm section is allowed to mess around with their own riffs, and soon the sax takes over the improvisation with a sweet solo as things get a little funkier with the freedom that the bass has to make his part interesting, but the tempo staying moderate. The keys in this one pretty much holds everything together, but later, you get a solo from Hancock too, this time enhanced with some interesting sounding wind instruments. The interplay between the instruments makes this track interesting, and it stands out a lot more because of the slower tempo. There are also noticeable layers of different synths. This track would be used on the Headhunters live album 'Flood' which would be released in 1975. After Hancock gets to show off his toys and his talent, the theme returns as at the first after the 9 minute mark.

'Spank-a-Lee' goes back to the fast funky groove similar to the first track but with some really cool effects furnished by both Hancock and the one man brass section Bernie Maupin. That man is another extremely well talented musician and it is easy to see why Hancock used his talents a lot, even prior to forming The Headhunters. He layers some of his instruments to make some interesting sounds and contrasts through the album, but they really stand out here, and go so well with Hancock's style. After a while, the sax breaks out of the fray with another nice solo. Hancock knew he had a top notch musician there and it is great he would allow him to show off also, but also gives more variety to the music. They always complimented each other so well. As the track goes on, the sax gets to get quite wild at places carrying things to crazy heights and then reigning himself back in. Later, the rhythm gets more responsive to the improvisation and the bands interaction shines through. This is a perfect track to end a perfect album.

No doubt that this is one of Hancock's best, and it is deserving of that. The best part is how the amazing line-up works so well together. Alas, Hancock would eventually move away to a more pop oriented sound, while the Headhunters would continue for a little while without him. But, at least we ended up with at least four great albums with this band. This is definitely a jazz fusion masterpiece and really proves what an excellent artist Hancock was when he was producing his best and most relevant albums. Nothing on this album sound dated, it could have been recorded yesterday. What is interesting though is how Hancock's pop oriented albums that came later do sound outdated. But, before all that happens, we have some excellent performances that stand the test of time much better.

 Mwandishi by HANCOCK, HERBIE album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.11 | 83 ratings

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Mwandishi
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

4 stars The 60s was a busy time for child prodigy HERBIE HANCOCK. After getting his feet wet in the jazz world with Donald Byrd, it took him no time at all to be noticed by the greatest bigwigs in the industry. Miles Davis, arguably one of the greatest jazz talents ever to have roamed the planet, snatched HANCOCK up at the tender age of 23 and placed him as a major part of his Second Great Quintet. HANCOCK remained with Davis throughout the decade and although he was catering to Davis' every musical whim, was carefully taking cues in many ways and soaking in his masterful tutelage like a sponge. Despite having released a great number of albums during his stint as keyboardist-in-chief on such classic albums ranging from "Seven Steps To Heaven" all the way to "In A Silent Way," HANCOCK himself hadn't really come of age on his own until he got to his "Fat Albert Rotunda" album where he seemed to have found his inner voice and took his own path down jazz-funk-fusion alley.

Despite having found his way, he hadn't quite found his identity, a plight that many African-Americans have faced across many the ages having no lineage records from where exactly their DNA had emerged but rather adapting to the strange new land in which they were brought generations ago. Around the late 60s, HANCOCK was also coming of age as an individual after having conquered the musical arenas a decade prior. This is the period when he adopted a Swahili alter-ego named MWANDISHI, a concept that blossomed like African violets after a series of gentle nourishing rain showers until the idea for a new musical direction became eminent. Once the great MWANDISHI was unleashed, there was no stopping him and no looking back. What became a new identity fruitfully gelled into an entire trilogy of musical innovation that to this very day remains some of HANCOCK's most mesmerizing and complex musical output of his entire career.

After shedding his "Watermelon Man" persona which he had worn since his debut "Takin' Off," HANCOCK changed gears from the Saturday morning cartoon subject matter of "Fat Albert Rotunda" and transmogrified into a deep contemplative form of spiritual jazz that took the listener along for the ride of HANCOCK's own inner journey into the unknown and beyond. However to pull this miraculous metamorphosis off convincingly HANCOCK reconfigured his entire band make-up with all new members with the only returning member Buster Williams donning the new persona Mchaezaji. Likewise, the new set of six musicians would also adopt names from their respective lineages. While most were of African descent, Nicaraguan conga and timbale member Jose Areas would become Chepito and the appearance by Ronnie Monstrose stayed in his already Euro-penned appellation.

The first album of the trilogy is logically titled MWANDISHI with an album cover of a self-reflecting (inner and outer) HANCOCK in chromatic aberration pondering the existential quandaries of the universe. The album contained three lengthy tracks that focused on free form collective improvisation that utilized extremely complex and unusual time signatures with a particular emphasis on HANCOCK's unique Fender Rhodes piano playing which continued the ties from the most experimental Miles Davis albums of the era, however despite the obvious ties to the world of Davis, HANCOCK makes MWANDISHI his own in every way, shape and irregularly laid out form. This would become a trend that would only magnify on the subsequent "Crossings" and "Sextant" albums. As HANCOCK himself stated "So much of Africa has been squeezed out of black America, and we're taking a look at ourselves and recognizing our heritage."

And with that emphasis on self-reflection, the very first track "Ostinato (Suite For Angela)" is dedicated to Angela Davis and provides the most percussive and easily digestible track on the album with a strong ostinato bass groove providing the backbone for a series of unusual time signature deviations. The track in its conga rich and percussively prominent domain delves into bizarre mixes of 15/4 meters followed by 4/4, 7/8 every other variation in, between and around. This is the only track to feature both Chepito and Ronnie Montrose on guitar. Despite the free form jams into extreme complexity, the track flows as smooth as silk. The second track "You'll Know When You Get There" is more of a divine heavenly journey into the ethers and into the clouds. While the track is over ten minutes in length, it is followed by the similarly sounding 21 plus minute "Wandering Spirit Song." Both tracks emphasize more free form approaches with less rhythmic structure and more ethereal floatiness. They display HANCOCK's mastery of extensive use of tension and release where the tensions build slowly as the instrumentation increases only to find resolution with HANCOCK's use of sustained synthesized chords. In some ways, this album reminds me of some of the post-rock of the 21st century in how it provides a blueprint for that style.

MWANDISHI was the album that proved HERBIE HANCOCK was one of the true originals in the entire jazz-fusion scene of the early 70s. The concepts, musical compositional approach and instrumentation were strange new amalgamations of musical creativity unheard before and carried out with the most free form precision outside of the alien world of Sun Ra. After hearing the more dynamic following albums "Crossings" and "Sextant" it may be hard to appreciate the genius of this first installment in the MWANDISHI trilogy in the context of its era, but it is not too difficult for the attentive listener to pick out the subtle details which makes the album stand out amongst the crowd of its day. While personally MWANDISHI may be my least favorite chapter in the trilogy, it is nevertheless an essential prerequisite for appreciating the long lasting jazz-fusion that HANCOCK would pump out that led to his more funkified "Headhunters" days. Not only a landmark of jazz-fusion history but an intricately gorgeous album in all its free form glory. The beauty of MWANDISHI is that it does not discard HANCOCK's past but rather incorporates the many chapters of his musical career and pushes them into entirely fresh musical arenas.

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

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