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Film Soundtracks - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Film Soundtracks - Released June 1, 2009 | SMSP

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Herbie Hancock extends the reach of his Head Hunters-vintage electric music into the soundtrack field, with some switchbacks to earlier styles and old-fashioned movie suspense music thrown into the eclectic mix. Jerry Peters provides the requisite orchestral backgrounds, and the wah-wah guitar licks give some indication as to where Herbie's funk music would be going in the future. The main title music is the best track -- tense, streaked with Hancock's echo-delayed electric piano and understated orchestrations. A good deal of the record, alas, is filled by listless film cues that are meaningless without the action in front of you. Still, the results are, in general, more intriguing than usual for the film genre. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Obviously these three have known each other since the playground days − almost at least… During the summer of 1977, the ex-virtuosos of Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet locked themselves up in the Automatt, a studio in San Francisco, to remind those who may have forgotten how perfect their complicity could sound. These sessions gave birth to two albums: Third Plane with Milestone and Herbie Hancock Trio with Columbia. Same story five years later with a similar exercise released under the title Herbie Hancock Trio With Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Each of them included a personal theme (Dolphin Dance for Hancock, Slight Smile for Carter and Maison Goree for Williams) between two classics (Benny Golson’s Stable Mates and That Old Black Magic by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer), creating a particularly refined atmosphere. The three friends obviously put on hold their fusion/jazz-rock inclinations that had defined their music since the mid-1970s, and went back to a sort of velvety, woody-flavoured hard pop. The (new) revolution clearly wasn’t yet on the agenda. But robust swing and inspired improvisations clearly were! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released July 20, 2012 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Less overtly adventurous than its predecessor, Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage nevertheless finds Herbie Hancock at a creative peak. In fact, it's arguably his finest record of the '60s, reaching a perfect balance between accessible, lyrical jazz and chance-taking hard bop. By this point, the pianist had been with Miles Davis for two years, and it's clear that Miles' subdued yet challenging modal experiments had been fully integrated by Hancock. Not only that, but through Davis, Hancock became part of the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, who are both featured on Maiden Voyage, along with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and tenor saxophonist George Coleman. The quintet plays a selection of five Hancock originals, many of which are simply superb showcases for the group's provocative, unpredictable solos, tonal textures, and harmonies. While the quintet takes risks, the music is lovely and accessible, thanks to Hancock's understated, melodic compositions and the tasteful group interplay. All of the elements blend together to make Maiden Voyage a shimmering, beautiful album that captures Hancock at his finest as a leader, soloist, and composer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released June 21, 2010 | Masterworks Jazz

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Herbie Hancock's star-studded The Imagine Project was several years in the making, recorded in seven countries with musicians from all over the globe. Hancock's band with producer/bassist Larry Klein, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acuña, and guitarist Lionel Loueke is a common denominator. Much of what's here is interpretations of well-known pop, folk, and soul songs. That said, The Imagine Project (named for the John Lennon song) feels more like an overreach than a seamless or successful series of collaborations. The best things are indeed fine. There's a gorgeous reading of Baden Powell's “Tempo de Amore,” thanks to Lucas Martins’ bassline and CéU's singing. “Space Captain” by the Derek Trucks-Susan Tedeschi Band -- with Hancock and Colaiuta -- brings out a much-needed soulful grit to Tedeschi’s vocals, gospelized four-party harmony, and Trucks' tough slide playing. Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are a Changin'," with Lisa Hannigan's raw, emotive vocals, is underscored by interplay between the Chieftains, Toumani Diabaté's kora, and Hancock's piano. The tune moves past its American folk revival beginnings to reflect a global sentiment. “Tamatant Tilay”/”Exodus” pairs the nomad Malian guitar band Tinariwen’s song with Bob Marley's classic. K’NAAN, Tinariwen, and three members of Los Lobos are all featured on vocals. Tinariwen dominates with Hancock’s funky clavinet pushing against their snaky wall of guitars and ululating singing; it's the hippest track here. Klein’s “The Song Goes On,” features Anoushka Shankar, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, and K.S. Chithra with some lyrics translated into Hindi. A full-on Indian session band interacts with Shorter’s knotty soprano sax, and the only truly engaged Hancock piano playing on the set is here. Then there's the rest: “Imagine"'s intro features overwrought singing by Pink and Seal, but turns itself into a Caribbean-flavored tune with India.Arie and her tasteful understatement. Konono No. 1's driving likembe break has Oumou Sangare's vocal accompaniment adding depth to save it. Peter Gabriel's “Don’t Give Up,” a duet between Pink and John Legend, reeks of overproduction; Legend's singing mimics Gabriel’s; Pink's dry acrobatics are hollow. Dave Matthews is a poor choice as a lead vocalist on the Beatles' “Tomorrow Never Knows.” His voice is unexpressive and doesn’t match the musical drama created by drummer Matt Chamberlain, and Danny Barnes and Michael Claves on psychedelicized banjos and guitars. This mixed bag of a record feels like a deliberate grab at Record of the Year Grammy, but it's too uneven. Hancock has taken many risks in his career, but this doesn’t feel like one of them. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released April 29, 2008 | Columbia

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After Man-Child, alas, Herbie Hancock's American jazz-funk records in the 1970s grew gradually more commercial, less stimulating, and crucially, less truly funky with each release, even as his equipment rack grew larger. Just take a look at the staggering collection of keyboards on the back cover of the Sunlight LP -- all sought-after collectors' items now -- yet Hancock makes so little use of their possibilities here. For much of the album, he seems most interested in establishing a new career as an electronic vocalist. "I Thought It Was You," "Come Running to Me," and the title track introduce the ghostly, gauzy sound of Herbie's singing voice as heard through a vocoder; there's even an electronic Herbie scat choir. Stevie Wonder, he's not. There are still occasional splashes of Hancock harmonic color on the keyboards, but he also relies upon superfluous, self-arranged brass riffs and string backgrounds. The backup bands shift from track to track, from combinations of Headhunters alumni that offer soft-focused facsimiles of the old funk drive to a surprisingly strait-jacketed pairing of Tony Williams and Jaco Pastorius on the eccentric "Good Question." ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released September 18, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released February 8, 2000 | Columbia - Legacy

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Herbie Hancock completely overhauled his sound and conquered MTV with his most radical step forward since the sextet days. He brought in Bill Laswell of Material as producer, along with Grand Mixer D.ST on turntables -- and the immediate result was "Rockit," which makes quite a post-industrial metallic racket. Frankly, the whole record is an enigma; for all of its dehumanized, mechanized textures and rigid rhythms, it has a vitality and sense of humor that make it difficult to turn off. Moreover, Herbie can't help but inject a subversive funk element when he comps along to the techno beat -- and yes, some real, honest-to-goodness jazz licks on a grand piano show up in the middle of "Auto Drive." ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released July 9, 1998 | Columbia - Legacy

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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. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released September 27, 1988 | Columbia

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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. ~ Jim Newsom
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Having long since established his funk credentials, Herbie Hancock continues the direction of Head Hunters and its U.S. successors here, welding himself to the groove on electric keyboards while Bennie Maupin again shines sardonic beams of light on a variety of reeds. In "Doin' It," the most successful track, Hancock makes a more overt bid for the dancefloor, for the tune is basically one long irresistible groove with a very commercial-sounding bridge. Again Hancock chooses to recompose one of his standards; [RoviLink="MC"]"Cantelope [sic] Island"[/RoviLink] is almost unrecognizable converted into a sauntering, swaggering thing. A streamlining process has set in -- the drumming has been simplified, some of the old high-voltage drive has been muted -- yet there are still enough enjoyable, intelligently musical things happening here to hold a Hancock admirer's attention. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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By 1978, Hancock had another identity as a dance/fusion attraction with the albums Feets Don't Fail Me Now and Sunlight. Lite Me Up is an even more concerted effort to fuse jazz with pop. Hancock handled all of the production chores on all but two of the eight tracks. His main arranger and lyricist here is Rod Temperton, the former Heatwave member who worked with Quincy Jones on albums Off the Wall and Light Up the Night. The title track and "The Bomb" are glossy, propulsive offerings reminiscent of prime Jones without his skill at making it all stick. The biggest hit here, the sleek "Getting' to the Good Part" adheres to the Steely Dan's Gaucho style, has a gorgeous bridge, and has Hancock doing his loved or hated vocoder lead vocals. From a jazz perspective, there is precious little of it on Lite Me Up. In fact, the songs "The Fun Tracks" and the humorous "Motor Mouth" sound like Heatwave retreads. The last song stands out, however. The beautiful, hooky ballad "Give It All Your Heart" features both Hancock and Patrice Rushen both doing their vocal leads on vocoder. The track perfectly captures both prime Temperton and Hancock's '78-'82 fusion ballad style. Songs with producers Jay Graydon and Narada Michael Walden both feature the artist doing vocals without the gadgetry, and, believe it or not, the vocoder is more definitive. Despite the better tracks, Lite Me Up doesn't have the adventurous nature of Hancock's jazz/pop of the era. ~ Jason Elias
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released November 20, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Despite the PR hype about this being Herbie Hancock's first "rock" album, Monster is really another disco album, though more varied in texture, somewhat more subtle in execution, and blessedly rid of those vocoder vocals, though not of the real ones. "Saturday Night," despite the distinctive presence of Carlos Santana, sets the album's dancefloor tone. The rock element is supposedly supplied by Hancock on the newly developed Clavitar, where try as he might to articulate like a guitarist, the sound is still that of a mutated synthesizer. Alphonze Mouzon is on drums, and guitarist Wah Wah Watson has a field day on his eponymous specialty. ~ Richard S. Ginell