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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released October 26, 1973 | Columbia - Legacy

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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. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - 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 /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released September 6, 1974 | 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 /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Jazz - Released August 28, 2001 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Jazz - Released March 30, 1973 | Columbia - Legacy

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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. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 21, 2014 | Rhino - Elektra

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 11, 1974 | SMSP

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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

A mini-retrospective of Herbie Hancock's early years as a jazz artist, this six-track CD touches on some of his best-known small-ensemble works from that period. Of his first five albums for Blue Note Records from 1963-1965, Takin' Off, My Point of View, Empyrean Isles, and Maiden Voyage are represented -- his third and perhaps most individually realized LP, Inventions & Dimensions, is not. You get hits "Canteloupe Island," "Watermelon Man," "Maiden Voyage," and three lesser titles, which remove it from "best-of" status. His sixth and seventh full-length Blue Note recordings, The Prisoner and Speak Like a Child, are also omitted. This is a decent, edited, and concise, but far from comprehensive view of Hancock's salad days, which some purport might still be his best. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 15, 1978 | Columbia

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Jazz - Released September 16, 2008 | Columbia

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Film Soundtracks - Released February 24, 1967 | WaterTower Music

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A young Herbie Hancock contributed the bulk of the score to Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 screen classic, evoking the ambience of swinging London with grooves that create effective bluesy moods on the slow pieces, and funky ones on the up-tempo tracks. Rock fans remember the film and the soundtrack for the inclusion of a rare Yardbirds number, "Stroll On" (actually, an adaptation of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'"), one of only three songs they recorded with both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitars. That cut is also included (although it's also been reissued elsewhere). © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 16, 2008 | Columbia

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Jazz - Released December 1, 1964 | Blue Note Records

My Point of View and Inventions and Dimensions found Herbie Hancock exploring the fringes of hard bop, working with a big band and a Latin-flavored percussion section, respectively. On Empyrean Isles, he returns to hard bop, but the results are anything but conventional. Working with cornetist Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams -- a trio just as young and adventurous as he was -- Hancock pushes at the borders of hard bop, finding a brilliantly evocative balance between traditional bop, soul-injected grooves, and experimental, post-modal jazz. Hancock's four original concepts are loosely based on the myths of the Empyrean Isles, and they are designed to push the limits of the band and of hard bop. Even "Cantaloupe Island," well-known for its funky piano riff, takes chances and doesn't just ride the groove. "The Egg," with its minimal melody and extended solo improvisations, is the riskiest number on the record, but it works because each musician spins inventive, challenging solos that defy convention. In comparison, "One Finger Snap" and "Oliloqui Valley" adhere to hard bop conventions, but each song finds the quartet vigorously searching for new sonic territory with convincing fire. That passion informs all of Empyrean Isles, a record that officially established Hancock as a major artist in his own right. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo