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LISTEN: Herbie Hancock, who turns 80 today

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    Posted: 12 Apr 2020 at 10:01am

Listen: five classic albums by jazz great Herbie Hancock, who turns 80 today

The US pianist built an indomitable career out of his quest to change and innovate

US jazz great Herbie Hancock turns 80 on April 12, 2020.  US jazz great Herbie Hancock turns 80 on April 12, 2020. 

'Maiden Voyage' (1956)

This is the album on which Hancock comes into his own as both composer and band leader. After being under the tutelage of Miles Davis for two years, Hancock took on some of the master's penchant for understated yet quietly challenging pieces that expanded the outer reaches of jazz. The arrangements here are adventurous without sacrificing any of the inherent melody central to his work. This is best exemplified in the yearning title song, which has become a jazz standard, as well the shimmering Dolphin Dance.

'Crossings' (1972)

One of the most "out there" albums recorded by Hancock with his experimental group Mwandishi. That said, despite its spaced-out Moog synthesisers, African percussion and off-kilter saxophones, the album remains a remarkably cogent piece of work. This is primarily because of Hancock's strident playing on the Fender Rhodes electric piano – some of his groovy riffs hint at the funk-centric approach of his future works.

'Head Hunters' (1973)

After having his head in the clouds on a string of esoteric albums with previous band Mwandishi, Hancock returns to earth with this stone-cold funk classic. Gone is the avant-garde approach of Mwandishi as Hancock embraces groove. The album is taut, gritty and chock-full of chunky bass or keyboard riffs; it remains a goldmine for hip-hop producers to sample.

'Future Shock' (1983)

Another example of Hancock's restless muse. After becoming a pop star courtesy of his big-selling Head Hunters, Hancock ditched the funk stylings to embrace technology in this forward-thinking release. Future Shock remains influential in both the jazz and hip-hop worlds, as it melds funk with drum machines, sequences and DJ scratching. It also spawned the hit Rock It.

'Gershwin’s World' (1998)

One of the most underrated works in Hancock's oeuvre. This is a loving tribute to composer George Gershwin and shows a deeper and soulful side of Hancock’s playing. With a star-studded guest line-up that includes folk hero Joni Mitchell and legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, this is a wonderful journey into the work of one of the 20th century's greatest composers.

from www.thenational.ae

Edited by snobb - 12 Apr 2020 at 10:07am
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