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.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hancock toured with his V.S.O.P. quintet, which featured all the members of the 1960s Davis quintet except Davis, who was replaced by trumpeter Hubbard. There was constant speculation that Davis would reunite with his classic band, but he never did. VSOP recorded several live albums in the late 1970s, including The Quintet (1977).
In 1978, Hancock recorded a duet with Chick Corea, who had replaced him in the Davis band a decade earlier. Hancock also released a solo acoustic piano album, The Piano (1979), which was released only in Japan. (It was released in the US in 2004.) Other Japan-only albums include Dedication (1974), V.S.O.P.'s Tempest in the Colosseum (1977), and Direct Step (1978). VSOP: Live Under the Sky was a VSOP album remastered for the US in 2004 and included a second concert from the tour in July 1979.
From 1978 to 1982, Hancock recorded many albums of jazz-inflected disco and pop music, beginning with Sunlight (featuring guest musicians including Williams and Pastorius on the last track) (1978). Singing through a vocoder, he earned a British hit, "I Thought It Was You", although critics were unimpressed. This led to more vocoder on his next album, Feets, Don't Fail Me Now (1979), which gave him another UK hit in "You Bet Your Love".
Albums such as Monster (1980), Magic Windows (1981), and Lite Me Up (1982) were some of Hancock's most criticized albums. Hancock himself had quite a limited role in some of those albums, leaving singing, composing, and even producing to others. Mr. Hands (1980) is perhaps the one album during this period that was critically acclaimed.There were no vocals on the album, and one track featured Jaco Pastorius on bass. The album contained a variety of styles, including a disco instrumental, a Latin-jazz number, and an electronic piece in which Hancock played alone with the help of computers.
Hancock toured with Williams and Carter in 1981, recording Herbie Hancock Trio, a five-track live album released only in Japan. A month later, he recorded Quartet with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, released in the US the following year. Hancock, Williams, and Carter toured internationally with Wynton Marsalis and his brother, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, in what was known as "VSOP II". This quintet can be heard on Wynton Marsalis's debut album on Columbia (1981). In 1984 VSOP II performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival as a sextet with Hancock, Williams, Carter, the Marsalis Brothers, and Bobby McFerrin.
In 1983, Hancock had a pop hit with the Grammy-award-winning single "Rockit" from the album Future Shock. It was the first jazz hip-hop song and became a worldwide anthem for breakdancers and for hip-hop in the 1980s. It was the first mainstream single to feature scratching, and also featured an innovative animated music video, which was directed by Godley and Creme and showed several robot-like artworks by Jim Whiting. The video was a hit on MTV and reached No. 8 in the UK. The video won in five categories at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. This single ushered in a collaboration with noted bassist and producer Bill Laswell. Hancock experimented with electronic music on a string of three LPs produced by Laswell: Future Shock (1983), the Grammy Award-winning Sound-System (1984), and Perfect Machine (1988).
During this period, he appeared onstage at the Grammy Awards with Stevie Wonder, Howard Jones, and Thomas Dolby, in a synthesizer jam. Lesser known works from the 1980s are the live album Jazz Africa (1987) and the studio album Village Life (1984), which were recorded with Gambian kora player Foday Musa Suso. Also, in 1985 Hancock performed as a guest on the album So Red the Rose (1985) by the Duran Duran spinoff group Arcadia. He also provided introductory and closing comments for the PBS rebroadcast in the United States of the BBC educational series from the mid-1980s, Rockschool (not to be confused with the most recent Gene Simmons' Rock School series).
In 1986 Hancock performed and acted in the film 'Round Midnight. He also wrote the score/soundtrack, for which he won an Academy Award for Original Music Score. His film work was prolific during the 1980s, and included the scores to A Soldier's Story (1984), Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986), Action Jackson (1988, with Michael Kamen), Colors (1988), and the Eddie Murphy comedy Harlem Nights (1989). Often he would also write music for TV commercials. "Maiden Voyage", in fact, started out as a cologne advertisement. At the end of the Perfect Machine tour, Hancock decided to leave Columbia Records after a 15-plus-year relationship.
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The follow-up to the breakthrough Headhunters album was virtually as good as its wildly successful predecessor: an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force. There is only one change in the Headhunters lineup -- swapping drummer Harvey Mason for Mike Clark -- and the switch results in grooves that are even more complex. Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records. Again, there are only four long tracks, three of which ("Palm Grease," "Actual Proof," "Spank-A-Lee") concentrate on the funk, with plenty of Hancock's wah-wah clavinet, synthesizer textures and effects, and electric piano ruminations that still venture beyond the outer limits of post-bop. The change-of-pace is one of Hancock's loveliest electric pieces, "Butterfly," a match for any tune he's written before or since, with shimmering synth textures and Bennie Maupin soaring on soprano (Hancock would re-record it 20 years later on Dis Is Da Drum, but this is the one to hear). This supertight jazz-funk quintet album still sounds invigorating a quarter of a century later.
Herbie Hancock - Thrust (flac 225mb)
01 Palm Grease 10:34
02 Actual Proof 9:41
03 Butterfly 11:18
04 Spank-A-Lee 7:11
Herbie Hancock - Thrust (ogg 94mb)
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Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters take to the road in the live double album Flood, recorded and released only in Japan. Contrary to the impression left by his American releases at this time, Hancock was still very much attached to the acoustic piano, as his erudite opening workout on "Maiden Voyage/Actual Proof" with his funk rhythm section makes clear. The electric keyboards, mostly Rhodes piano and clavinet, make their first appearances on side two, where Hancock now becomes more of a funky adjunct to the rhythm section, bumping along with a superb feeling for the groove while Bennie Maupin takes the high road above on a panoply of winds. Except for "Voyage," the tunes come from the Head Hunters, Thrust, and Man-Child albums (another reason why this was not released in the U.S.). "Chameleon" comes with a lengthy outbreak of machine pink noise that attests to Hancock's wide-eyed love of gadgetry. In all, this was a great funk band, not all that danceable because of the rapid complexities of Mike Clark's drumming, and quite often, full of harmonic depth and adventure.
Herbie Hancock - Flood (flac 436mb)
01 Introduction & Maiden Voyage 7:00
02 Actual Proof 8:18
03 Spank-A-Lee 8:49
04 Watermelon Man 5:23
05 Butterfly 12:43
06 Chameleon 10:54
07 Hang Up Your Hang Ups 19:27
.Herbie Hancock - Flood (ogg 179mb)
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Perhaps the funkiest album of Herbie Hancock's early- to mid-'70s jazz/funk/fusion era, Man-Child starts off with the unforgettable "Hang Up Your Hang Ups," and the beat just keeps coming until the album's end. "Sun Touch" and "Bubbles" are slower, but funky nonetheless. Hancock is the star on his arsenal of keyboards, but guitarist Wah Wah Watson's presence is what puts a new sheen on this recording, distinguishing it from its predecessors, Head Hunters and Thrust. Others among the all-star cast of soloists and accompanists include Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica, and longtime Hancock cohort Bennie Maupin on an arsenal of woodwinds.
Herbie Hancock - Man-Child (flac 269mb)
01 Hang Up Your Hang Ups 7:28
02 Sun Touch 5:10
03 The Traitor 9:37
04 Bubbles 9:01
05 Steppin' In It 8:41
06 Heartbeat 5:16
Herbie Hancock - Man-Child (ogg 107mb )
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V.S.O.P. is a landmark album in the history of jazz, though not at all in the way it was intended. George Wein organized a Herbie Hancock retrospective concert at the 1977 Newport Jazz Festival in New York where three bands from Hancock's past and present -- the 1965-1968 Miles Davis Quintet with Freddie Hubbard deputizing for the indisposed Miles, the 1969-1973 sextet, and Hancock's then-current jazz-funk outfit -- would share the stage. As things turned out, it was the Miles band reunion that grabbed most of the attention, leading to several tours which in turn inspired a whole generation of young musicians (led by Wynton Marsalis) to turn their backs upon electronics and make bop-grounded acoustic jazz the lingua franca of jazz for the rest of the 20th century. This is not the outcome the forward-looking Hancock would have preferred, but you cannot deny that he, Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams sound marvelously in sync with each other, playing in a free-flowing, post-bop style none of them had touched in years. (Hancock is actually playing a Yamaha electric grand piano, not an acoustic grand -- there's a substantial sonic difference, yet one that went unremarked upon by otherwise-watchful purists at the time). The concert also turned out to be a farewell to the great Hancock Sextet (which has yet to reunite on records); this group actually made the most absorbing, adventurous music of that evening, with trumpeter Eddie Henderson laying a more credible claim to Miles' pithy idiom than Hubbard had earlier. The sextet plays only two numbers: "Toys" and "You'll Know When You Get There." It's a pity there isn't more. The two-LP set concludes with a somewhat disappointing jazz-funk set from a post-Headhunters edition band with Bennie Maupin and Paul Jackson as holdovers. They don't quite raise the temperature, or the complexity level as high as earlier Hancock jazz-funk outfits. The contrast between Hancock's present on this given day and his illustrious past was no doubt used as ammunition by the back-to-bop crowd to proclaim that "fusion" has got to go, which was unfair. The reverberations from this concert continue to this day.
Herbie Hancock - V.S.O.P. (flac 469mb)
01 Piano Introduction 4:32
02 Maiden Voyage 13:18
03 Nefertiti 5:17
04 Introduction Of Players/Eye Of The Hurricane 18:35
05 Toys 14:00
06 Introductions 1:47
07 You'll Know When You Get There 7:00
08 Hang Up Your Hang Ups 11:54
09 Spider 10:12
. Herbie Hancock - V.S.O.P. (ogg 198mb)
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