Todays Artist is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Starting his career with Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet where he helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. Having studied engineering and professing to love gadgets and buttons, Hancock was perfectly suited for the electronic age; he was one of the earliest champions of the Rhodes electric piano and Hohner clavinet, and would field an ever-growing collection of synthesizers and computers on his electric dates. Yet his love for the grand piano never waned, and despite his peripatetic activities all over the musical map, his piano style continued to evolve into tougher, ever more complex forms. He is as much at home trading riffs with a smoking funk band as he is communing with a world-class post-bop rhythm section -- and that drives purists on both sides of the fence up the wall. Ultimately his music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieve success among pop audiences. ........ N'joy
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Hancock was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Winnie Belle (Griffin), a secretary, and Wayman Edward Hancock, a government meat inspector. His parents named him after the singer and actor Herb Jeffries. He attended the Hyde Park Academy. Like many jazz pianists, Hancock started with a classical music education. He studied from age seven, and his talent was recognized early. Considered a child prodigy, he played the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537 (Coronation) at a young people's concert on February 5, 1952, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (led by CSO assistant conductor George Schick) at the age of 11. Through his teens, Hancock never had a jazz teacher, but developed his ear and sense of harmony. He was also influenced by records of the vocal group the Hi-Lo's.
In 1960, he heard Chris Anderson play just once, and begged him to accept him as a student. Hancock often mentions Anderson as his harmonic guru. Hancock left Grinnell College, moved to Chicago and began working with Donald Byrd and Coleman Hawkins, during which period he also took courses at Roosevelt University (he later graduated from Grinnell with degrees in electrical engineering and music. Grinnell also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1972). Byrd was attending the Manhattan School of Music in New York at the time and suggested that Hancock study composition with Vittorio Giannini, which he did for a short time in 1960. The pianist quickly earned a reputation, and played subsequent sessions with Oliver Nelson and Phil Woods. He recorded his first solo album Takin' Off for Blue Note Records in 1962. "Watermelon Man" (from Takin' Off) was to provide Mongo Santamaría with a hit single, but more importantly for Hancock, Takin' Off caught the attention of Miles Davis, who was at that time assembling a new band. Hancock was introduced to Davis by the young drummer Tony Williams, a member of the new band.
Hancock received considerable attention when, in May 1963, he joined Davis's Second Great Quintet. Davis personally sought out Hancock, whom he saw as one of the most promising talents in jazz. The rhythm section Davis organized was young but effective, comprising bassist Ron Carter, 17-year-old drummer Williams, and Hancock on piano. After George Coleman and Sam Rivers each took a turn at the saxophone spot, the quintet gelled with Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone. This quintet is often regarded as one of the finest jazz ensembles as of yet.
The second great quintet was where Hancock found his own voice as a pianist. Not only did he find new ways to use common chords, but he also popularized chords that had not previously been used in jazz. Hancock also developed a unique taste for "orchestral" accompaniment – using quartal harmony and Debussy-like harmonies, with stark contrasts then unheard of in jazz. With Williams and Carter he wove a labyrinth of rhythmic intricacy on, around and over existing melodic and chordal schemes. In the latter half of the 1960s their approach became so sophisticated and unorthodox that conventional chord changes would hardly be discernible; hence their improvisational concept would become known as "Time, No Changes".
While in Davis's band, Hancock also found time to record dozens of sessions for the Blue Note label, both under his own name and as a sideman with other musicians such as Shorter, Williams, Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Rivers, Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard.
His albums Empyrean Isles (1964) and Maiden Voyage (1965) were to be two of the most famous and influential jazz LPs of the 1960s, winning praise for both their innovation and accessibility (the latter demonstrated by the subsequent enormous popularity of the Maiden Voyage title track as a jazz standard, and by the jazz rap group US3 having a hit single with "Cantaloop" (derived from "Cantaloupe Island" on Empyrean Isles) some twenty nine years later). Empyrean Isles featured the Davis rhythm section of Hancock, Carter and Williams with the addition of Hubbard on cornet, while Maiden Voyage also added former Davis saxophonist Coleman (with Hubbard remaining on trumpet). Both albums are regarded as among the principal foundations of the post-bop style. Hancock also recorded several less-well-known but still critically acclaimed albums with larger ensembles – My Point of View (1963), Speak Like a Child (1968) and The Prisoner (1969) featured flugelhorn, alto flute and bass trombone. 1963's Inventions and Dimensions was an album of almost entirely improvised music, teaming Hancock with bassist Paul Chambers and two Latin percussionists, Willie Bobo and Osvaldo "Chihuahua" Martinez.
During this period, Hancock also composed the score to Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup (1966), the first of many film soundtracks he recorded in his career. As well as feature film soundtracks, Hancock recorded a number of musical themes used on American television commercials for such then well known products as Pillsbury's Space Food Sticks, Standard Oil, Tab diet cola and Virginia Slims cigarettes. Hancock also wrote, arranged and conducted a spy type theme for a series of F. William Free commercials for Silva Thins cigarettes. Hancock liked it so much he wished to record it as a song but the ad agency would not let him. He rewrote the harmony, tempo and tone and recorded the piece as the track "He Who Lives in Fear" from his The Prisoner album of 1969.
Davis had begun incorporating elements of rock and popular music into his recordings by the end of Hancock's tenure with the band. Despite some initial reluctance, Hancock began doubling on electric keyboards including the Fender Rhodes electric piano at Davis's insistence. Hancock adapted quickly to the new instruments, which proved to be important in his future artistic endeavors.
Under the pretext that he had returned late from a honeymoon in Brazil, Hancock was dismissed from Davis's band. In the summer of 1968 Hancock formed his own sextet. However, although Davis soon disbanded his quintet to search for a new sound, Hancock, despite his departure from the working band, continued to appear on Davis records for the next few years. Appearances included In a Silent Way, A Tribute to Jack Johnson and On the Corner.
Hancock left Blue Note in 1969, signing with Warner Bros. Records. In 1969, Hancock composed the soundtrack for Bill Cosby's animated prime-time television special Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert. Music from the soundtrack was later included on Fat Albert Rotunda (1969), an R&B-inspired album with strong jazz overtones. One of the jazzier songs on the record, the moody ballad "Tell Me a Bedtime Story", was later re-worked as a more electronic sounding song for the Quincy Jones album Sounds...and Stuff Like That!! (1978).
Hancock became fascinated with accumulating musical gadgets and toys. Together with the profound influence of Davis's Bitches Brew (1970), this fascination would culminate in a series of albums, in which electronic instruments are coupled with acoustic instruments. Hancock's first ventures into electronic music started with a sextet comprising Hancock, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart, and a trio of horn players: Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), and multireedist Bennie Maupin. Patrick Gleeson was eventually added to the mix to play and program the synthesizers.
The sextet, later a septet with the addition of Gleeson, made three albums under Hancock's name: Mwandishi (1971), Crossings (1972), and Sextant (1973) ; two more, Realization and Inside Out, were recorded under Henderson's name with essentially the same personnel. The music exhibited strong improvisational aspect beyond the confines of jazz mainstream and showed influence from the electronic music of contemporary classical composers.
Synthesizer player Gleeson introduced the instrument on Crossings, released in 1972, one of a handful of influential electronic jazz/fusion recordings to feature synthesizer that year. On Crossings (as well as on Weather Report's I Sing the Body Electric), the synthesizer is used more as an improvisatory global orchestration device than as a strictly melodic instrument. An early review of Crossings in Downbeat magazine complained about the synthesizer, but a few years later the magazine noted in a cover story on Gleeson that he was "a pioneer" in the field of electronics in jazz. In the albums following The Crossings, Hancock started to play synth himself, with synth taking on a melodic role.
Hancock's three records released in 1971–73 later became known as the "Mwandishi" albums, so-called after a Swahili name Hancock sometimes used during this era (Mwandishi is Swahili for writer). The first two, including Fat Albert Rotunda were made available on the 2-CD set Mwandishi: the Complete Warner Bros. Recordings, released in 1994. Of the three electronic albums, Sextant is probably the most experimental since the ARP synthesizers are used extensively, and some advanced improvisation ("post-modal free impressionism") is found on the tracks "Hornets" and "Hidden Shadows" (which is in the meter 19/4). "Hornets" was later revised on the 2001 album Future2Future as "Virtual Hornets".
After the sometimes "airy" and decidedly experimental "Mwandishi" albums, Hancock was eager to perform more "earthy" and "funky" music. The Mwandishi albums – though later seen as respected early fusion recordings – had seen mixed reviews and poor sales, so it is probable that Hancock was motivated by financial concerns as well as artistic restlessness. Hancock was also bothered by the fact that many people did not understand avant-garde music. He explained that he loved funk music, especially Sly Stone's music, so he wanted to try to make funk himself.
He gathered a new band, which he called The Headhunters, keeping only Maupin from the sextet and adding bassist Paul Jackson, percussionist Bill Summers, and drummer Harvey Mason. The album Head Hunters, released in 1973, was a major hit and crossed over to pop audiences, though it prompted criticism from some jazz fans. Head Hunters still sounds fresh and vital three decades after its initial release, and its genre-bending proved vastly influential on not only jazz, but funk, soul, and hip-hop.
Drummer Mason was replaced by Mike Clark, and the band released a second album, Thrust, the following year, 1974. (A live album from a Japan performance, consisting of compositions from those first two Head Hunters releases was released in 1975 as Flood.) This was almost as well received as its predecessor, if not attaining the same level of commercial success. The Headhunters made another successful album called Survival of the Fittest in 1975 without Hancock, while Hancock himself started to make even more commercial albums, often featuring members of the band, but no longer billed as The Headhunters. The Headhunters reunited with Hancock in 1998 for Return of the Headhunters, and a version of the band (featuring Jackson and Clark) continues to play and record.
In 1973, Hancock composed his soundtrack to the controversial film The Spook Who Sat by the Door. Then in 1974, he composed the soundtrack to the first Death Wish film. One of his memorable songs, "Joanna's Theme", was re-recorded in 1997 on his duet album with Shorter, 1 + 1. Hancock's next jazz-funk albums of the 1970s were Man-Child (1975), and Secrets (1976), which point toward the more commercial direction Hancock would take over the next decade. These albums feature the members of the Headhunters band, but also a variety of other musicians in important roles.
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With the formation of his great electric sextet, Herbie Hancock's music took off into outer and inner space, starting with the landmark Mwandishi album recorded in a single session on New Year's Eve. Ever the gadgeteer, Herbie plays with electronic effects devices -- reverb units, stereo tremelo, and Echoplex -- which all lead his music into spacier, open-ended directions very much influenced by Miles Davis' electric experiments, rendering it from post-bop conventions. There are just three tracks: the insistent 15/4-meter Afro-electric-funk workout "Ostinato (Suite for Angela)," the inquisitive "You'll Know When You Get There" with its ethereal Hancock voicings, and trombonist Julian Priester's "Silent Way"-influenced "Wandering Spirit Song," which eventually dips into tumultuous free form. Eddie Henderson emerges as a major trumpet soloist here, probing, jabbing, soliloquizing; Bennie Maupin comes over from Lee Morgan's group to add his ominous bass clarinet and thoughtful alto flute; and Buster Williams' bass and Billy Hart's flexible drums propel the rhythm section. Santana's José Chepitó Areas and Leon "Ndugu" Chancler also add funky percussive reinforcement to "Ostinato," along with guitarist Ron Montrose. The group's collective empathy is remarkable, and Hancock had only begun to probe the outer limits with this extraordinary music.
Herbie Hancock - Mwandishi (flac 254mb)
01 Ostinato (Suite For Angela) 13:05
02 You'll Know When You Get There 10:01
03 Wandering Spirit Song 21:23
Herbie Hancock - Mwandishi (ogg 104mb)
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With the frenzied knocking of what sounds like a clock shop gone berserk, Crossings takes the Herbie Hancock Sextet even further into the electric avant-garde, creating its own idiom. Now, however, the sextet has become a septet with the addition of Dr. Patrick Gleeson on Moog synthesizer, whose electronic decorations, pitchless and not, give the band an even spacier edge. Again, there are only three tracks -- the centerpiece being Hancock's multi-faceted, open-structured suite in five parts called "Sleeping Giant." Nearly 25 minutes long yet amazingly cohesive, "Sleeping Giant" gathers a lot of its strength from a series of funky grooves -- the most potent of which explodes at the tail-end of Part Two -- and Hancock's on-edge Fender Rhodes electric piano solos anticipate his funk adventures later in the '70s. Bennie Maupin's "Quasar" pushes the session into extraterrestrial territory, dominated by Gleeson's wild Moog effects and trumpeter Eddie Henderson's patented fluttering air trumpet. Even stranger is Maupin's "Water Torture," which saunters along freely with splashes of color from Hancock's spooky Mellotron and fuzz-wah-pedaled Fender Rhodes piano, Gleeson's electronics, and a quintet of voices. Still a challenging sonic experience, this music (which can be heard on Warners' Mwandishi two-CD set) has yet to find its audience, though the electronica-minded youth ought to find it dazzling.
Herbie Hancock - Crossings (flac 284mb)
01 Sleeping Giant 24:50
02 Quasar 7:27
03 Water Torture 14:04
.Herbie Hancock - Crossings (ogg 98mb)
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When Herbie Hancock left Warner Bros. in 1971 after releasing three musically sound but critically and commercially underappreciated albums -- The Crossing, Mwandishi, and Fat Albert's Groove -- he was struggling. At odds with a jazz establishment that longed for his return to his Blue Note sound and a fierce consciousness struggle with free music and the full-on embrace of electricity since his tenure with Miles Davis, Hancock was clearly looking for a voice. Before diving into the commercial waters that would become Headhunters in 1973, Hancock and his tough group (including Billy Hart, Julian Priester, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Bennie Maupin, and Buster Williams) cut this gem for their new label, Columbia. Like its Warner predecessors, the album features a kind of post-modal, free impressionism while gracing the edges of funk. The three long tracks are exploratory investigations into the nature of how mode and interval can be boiled down into a minimal stew and then extrapolated upon for soloing and "riffing." In fact, in many cases, the interval becomes the riff, as is evidenced by "Rain Dance." The piece that revealed the true funk direction, however, was "Hidden Shadows," with its choppy basslines and heavy percussion -- aided by the inclusion of Dr. Patrick Gleeson and Buck Clarke. Dave Rubinson's production brought Hancock's piano more into line with the rhythm section, allowing for a unified front in the more abstract sections of these tunes. The true masterpiece on the album, though, is "Hornets," an eclectic, electric ride through both the dark modal ambience of Miles' In a Silent Way and post-Coltrane harmonic aesthetics. The groove is in place, but it gets turned inside out by Priester and Maupin on more than one occasion and Hancock just bleats with the synth in sections. Over 19 minutes in length, it can be brutally intense, but is more often than not stunningly beautiful. It provides a glimpse into the music that became Headhunters, but doesn't fully explain it, making this disc, like its Warner predecessors, true and welcome mysteries in Hancock's long career.
Herbie Hancock - Sextant (flac 233mb)
01 Rain Dance 9:16
02 Hidden Shadows 10:13
03 Hornets 19:36
Herbie Hancock - Sextant (ogg 92mb )
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Head Hunters was a pivotal point in Herbie Hancock's career, bringing him into the vanguard of jazz fusion. Hancock had pushed avant-garde boundaries on his own albums and with Miles Davis, but he had never devoted himself to the groove as he did on Head Hunters. Drawing heavily from Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and James Brown, Hancock developed deeply funky, even gritty, rhythms over which he soloed on electric synthesizers, bringing the instrument to the forefront in jazz. It had all of the sensibilities of jazz, particularly in the way it wound off into long improvisations, but its rhythms were firmly planted in funk, soul, and R&B, giving it a mass appeal that made it the biggest-selling jazz album of all time (a record which was later broken). Jazz purists, of course, decried the experiments at the time, but Head Hunters still sounds fresh and vital decades after its initial release, and its genre-bending proved vastly influential on not only jazz, but funk, soul, and hip-hop.
Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (flac 258mb)
01 Chameleon 15:44
02 Watermelon Man 6:32
03 Sly 10:20
04 Vein Melter 9:10
. Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (ogg 98mb)
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