I've just been listening to Sound-System, which I think is great fun, except the booming "Rockit" drum sound which repeats throughout the album and gets a bit tiresome after a while. I love love love his experimental albums of the Mwandishi band, but I have a deep liking for all of his pop and fusion stuff too. I guess the argument you often hear is that he's a follower instead of trailblazer (unlike Miles, the most obvious comparison), but I don't think he needs to be. His hard bop is not quite as groovy as that of some other acts, his jazz funk not quite as funky, his free stuff not as free, nor his pop jazz quite as smooth, but I think he embodies this sort of likable need to try absolutely everything. Maybe he hasn't made as many perfect albums as Miles did, but he always comes across as fun.
One album of his which I think embodies all this is Mr. Hands. It has these horribly cheesy early-eighties synth sounds and smooth production (Herbie plays, among other stuff, synthesized steel drums and guitar), but there's also a bunch of lovely melodies, some hidden funk and a killer jazz stomp played by the original Headhunters. So, in here (as on other records) I think the charm is exactly in Herbie's imperfectness, his willingness to get his hands on everything without considering how awful the results may be.
― Tuomas (Tuomas), Friday, 5 January 2007 15:20 (fifteen years ago) link
― A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Friday, 5 January 2007 15:40 (fifteen years ago) link
some hidden funk and a killer jazz stomp
Harvey Mason on Shiftless Shuffle makes eyes pop out.
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 5 January 2007 15:42 (fifteen years ago) link
― Tuomas (Tuomas), Friday, 5 January 2007 16:41 (fifteen years ago) link
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Friday, 5 January 2007 16:44 (fifteen years ago) link
― The Redd And The Blecch (Ken L), Friday, 5 January 2007 16:46 (fifteen years ago) link
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Friday, 5 January 2007 16:55 (fifteen years ago) link
Also, of course search EVERYTHING he did w/ Miles.
I love that story of his "audition" for Miles.
What's that story, I forget?
― mcd (mcd), Friday, 5 January 2007 17:01 (fifteen years ago) link
― The Redd And The Blecch (Ken L), Friday, 5 January 2007 17:06 (fifteen years ago) link
― The Redd And The Blecch (Ken L), Friday, 5 January 2007 17:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 5 January 2007 19:54 (fifteen years ago) link
― Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 5 January 2007 20:02 (fifteen years ago) link
― Candy: tastes like chicken, if chicken was a candy. (Austin, Still), Friday, 5 January 2007 20:05 (fifteen years ago) link
― The Redd And The Blecch (Ken L), Friday, 5 January 2007 20:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― chaki (chaki), Friday, 5 January 2007 20:14 (fifteen years ago) link
When Bill Evans—we sometimes called him Moe—first got with the band, he was so quiet, man. One day, just to see what he could do, I told him, "Bill, you know what you have to do, don't you, to be in this band?"
He looked at me all puzzled and shit and shook his head and said, "No, Miles, what do I have to do?"
I said, "Bill, now you know we all brothers and shit and everybody's in this thing together and so what I came up with for you is that you got to make it with everybody, you know what I mean? You got to fuck the band." Now, I was kidding, but Bill was real serious, like Trane.
He thought about it for about fifteen minutes and then came back and told me, "Miles, I thought about what you said and I just can't do it, I just can't do that. I'd like to please everyone and make everyone happy here, but I just can't do that."
I looked at him and smiled and said, "My man!" And then he knew I was teasing.
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 5 January 2007 20:20 (fifteen years ago) link
― Curt1s St3ph3ns, Friday, 5 January 2007 20:32 (fifteen years ago) link
there was a great thread on the Summer sounding Disco/R&B/Jazz corssover stuff that began with that incredible INCREDIBLE hancock album.
― PappaWheelie MMCMXL (PappaWheelie 2), Friday, 5 January 2007 22:08 (fifteen years ago) link
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 5 January 2007 22:09 (fifteen years ago) link
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 5 January 2007 22:10 (fifteen years ago) link
― PappaWheelie MMCMXL (PappaWheelie 2), Friday, 5 January 2007 22:12 (fifteen years ago) link
― PappaWheelie MMCMXL (PappaWheelie 2), Friday, 5 January 2007 22:13 (fifteen years ago) link
― Tuomas (Tuomas), Saturday, 6 January 2007 09:05 (fifteen years ago) link
― mark s (mark s), Saturday, 6 January 2007 17:11 (fifteen years ago) link
Mike: How much do you practice a day?Herbie: Maybe 3 or 4 hoursMike: Really, that's all?Herbie: I had this piano student once, and the kid used to practice like 10 hours a day, but he STUNK!Mike: Even practicing 10 hours a day huh?Herbie: No, I mean he STUNK! The kid never took showers!
― A-ron Hubbard (Hurting), Saturday, 6 January 2007 17:19 (fifteen years ago) link
― Brigadier Lethbridge-Pfunkboy (Kerr), Saturday, 6 January 2007 17:39 (fifteen years ago) link
― sleeve version 2.0 (sleeve testing), Saturday, 6 January 2007 18:32 (fifteen years ago) link
― Tyler W (tylerw), Sunday, 7 January 2007 19:26 (fifteen years ago) link
Survival of the Fittest (Arista, 1975). Essential as oxygen.
― Dave Segal (Da ve Segal), Monday, 8 January 2007 01:34 (fifteen years ago) link
― Andrew (enneff), Monday, 8 January 2007 02:03 (fifteen years ago) link
― Tuomas (Tuomas), Friday, 19 January 2007 14:20 (fifteen years ago) link
I wonder if Magic Windows is worth checking out, it seems to be in the same mold as this one.
― Tuomas (Tuomas), Tuesday, 23 January 2007 14:42 (fifteen years ago) link
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Tuesday, 23 January 2007 15:06 (fifteen years ago) link
― Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 23 January 2007 15:14 (fifteen years ago) link
I finally got Mwandishi, and I'm enjoying it a lot. The first track has a killer complex groove, whereas the second two are more slow and floaty, ambient even, kinda reminiscent of the Eddie Henderson albums where the Mwandishi band played. I realized that the reason I don't like Henderson albums as much as the Herbie ones, even though the players are mostly the same, is that Julian Priester is missing on the Henderson albums. His trombones gave the Mwandishi band the sonic deep end without which it doesn't sound quite as good.
― Tuomas, Saturday, 29 December 2007 11:22 (fourteen years ago) link
Not into any pre-"Head Hunters" stuff, but I have been digging into some of his later 70s albums and there is some great underrated stuff there. "Thrust", "Man-Child", "Secrets", "Sunlight", "Direct Step". And, yes, "Mr. Hands" too. And the stuff from "Rock It" until "Perfect Machine" is of course ace, and his best ever. He has seemed to lose it afterwards though.
Btw. does anyone know if "Mr. Hands" (the title) was influenced by "Weather Report's "Mr. Gone" from a couple years before?
― Geir Hongro, Saturday, 29 December 2007 17:49 (fourteen years ago) link
man...i really hated herbies last few albums....but i do love his 60s and 70s work. used to have manchild on a cassette and listen all the time. his solo on chameleon is so good
― bstep, Saturday, 29 December 2007 22:33 (fourteen years ago) link
The newest one is pretty good I think.
― BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Sunday, 30 December 2007 07:04 (fourteen years ago) link
Has anyone heard the hip-hop album he made in 1993, Dis Is Da Drum? Some friend of mine had it back in the 90s, and I remember liking it, but I haven't heard it since.
― Tuomas, Sunday, 30 December 2007 23:17 (fourteen years ago) link
I'm sitting at home with a flu, and I just put on Lite Me Up, and today it's sounding really good to me. So well-mannered and smooth and nice. I guess some people would say it's lacking an edge, but why should all music sound edgy? I've been listening to a lot of early 80s R&B/urban contemporary exactly because it's often decidedly non-edgy and non-raw, and I think that's a perfectly valid and often interesting approach to R&B. As Lite Me Up proves.
― Tuomas, Friday, 4 January 2008 11:32 (fourteen years ago) link
Nice live version of Chameleon over at Destination Out.
― The guy who just votes in polls, Tuesday, 29 January 2008 16:05 (fourteen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 February 2008 04:52 (fourteen years ago) link
Let's talk about Lord Xenu, Ned.
― Mordy, Monday, 11 February 2008 05:10 (fourteen years ago) link
(I am rather glad I was wrong about him being a Scientologist, that had depressed me.)
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 February 2008 05:11 (fourteen years ago) link
He was/is a Buddhist, I think. But unlike many of his jazz contemporaries, I don't see that big a sprititual or religious influence in his music, he's always seemed rather down-to-earth.
― Tuomas, Monday, 11 February 2008 07:43 (fourteen years ago) link
Oh, I just read he won the Best Album Grammy this year. Congrats for him! Has anyone actually heard the new album, is it good? It seems to have gotten quite good reviews, but since I have little interest in Joni Mitchell, I hadn't really thought of buying it.
― Tuomas, Monday, 11 February 2008 09:14 (fourteen years ago) link
The River is close to great. It deserves a million grammys. or not, i don't know what makes an album the best album of the year ... but it is good -- even if you're not super into Joni, there's some great playing from Hancock and Wayne Shorter ... And the guest appearances are actually pretty solid -- Tina Turner brings it! It's certainly better than a lot of the latter day Hancock I've heard.
― tylerw, Monday, 11 February 2008 20:56 (fourteen years ago) link
We really need to do a thread on his post-Headhunters, pre-Laswell electronici funk records with the vocoders and shit. It's like a whole world exists there.
― Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 15 March 2008 05:04 (fourteen years ago) link
Out of those albums, I think only Sunlight and Mr. Hands are really essential. (And even with Mr. Hands you have to be able to like its rather, er, soft 80s sound in order to appreciate it.) The rest of them usually have one or two great tracks, but the rest is not spectacular. I think Herbie was trying a bit too hard to appeal to the popular taste of that era, so the sound and the arrangements on those albums are often kinda too polished and neat.
― Tuomas, Thursday, 22 October 2009 14:09 (twelve years ago) link
the death wish soundtrack is pretty amazing, isn't it?
― Touch! Generations (stevie), Wednesday, 3 March 2010 14:23 (twelve years ago) link
The Japan only-album with the Kimiko Kasai is very cool, nice to see that it's included. It has some nice & soulful vocal arrangements of Herbie's 70s jazz-funk tunes, and Kasai is a surprisingly good in interpreting those. The price for the comp is awfully steep though, especially considering that nowadays you can buy most of Herbie's Columbia albums like 5 bucks a piece (i.e. for less than their price-per-disc is on the compilation).
― Tuomas, Sunday, 15 September 2013 20:56 (eight years ago) link
read herbie's autobio a couple weekends back -- pretty good stuff, though there were definitely parts i wish were longer (and other parts I wish were shorter). *spoiler*the period where he's addicted to crack in the 90s is bizarre! and a bummer! just really at odds w/ pretty much everything else in the book... but i'm glad he seems to have made it out of all that intact.
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:19 (seven years ago) link
wtf Herbie was on crack?! has every awesome black musician of a certain age been on crack at some point?
― Οὖτις, Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:55 (seven years ago) link
yeah he doesn't really give the exact timeline, but it seems like a good portion of the 90s he was addicted. i had always thought of him as a generally clean living kind of dude.
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:58 (seven years ago) link
That's nuts. I had no idea. Didn't seem to affect his profile or sales much, though.
― Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:05 (seven years ago) link
doesn't seem like anyone knew about it at the time (not even his family) and the autobio is the first time he's gone public about it. but yeah, he was fairly productive even w/ the addiction it seems.
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:07 (seven years ago) link
I just feel like I've read a bunch of bios over the years where it turns out some hugely influential black musician had some down-n-out crack problem period (usually well after their commercial heyday) - Fred Wesley, George Clinton (ok here I was just more surprised at the *length* of the period tbf), etc.
― Οὖτις, Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:09 (seven years ago) link
and then there was The One chronicling JB's ultra-depressing final decades on the sherm
how's Al Green, did he manage to stay off the crack?
― Οὖτις, Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:10 (seven years ago) link
Maybe Herbie made it up.
"Man, this is a boring book...I come off like the Ned Flanders of jazz. Wait, I know! I'll just sprinkle a little crack addiction here...yeah, the 90s...that'll work...this is gold!"
― Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:11 (seven years ago) link
haha i mean it almost comes across like that -- otherwise the last third of the book would be like "hey i made a record w/ christina aguilera singing on it i guess that was ok. won a grammy! cool."
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:16 (seven years ago) link
He's definitely not high on the list of jazz musicians I would have expected to have a crack addiction.
― walid foster dulles (man alive), Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:22 (seven years ago) link
I usually think of him as a guy that disproves the theory that a musician has to be crazy and/or drug-addled and/or unhappy to be interesting.
― walid foster dulles (man alive), Thursday, 29 January 2015 21:23 (seven years ago) link
I have a hard time imagining Hancock drinking a glass of red wine much less a drug problem.
― chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:01 (seven years ago) link
might've been tough to be anywhere in the LA music bizzzz in the late 70s/80s w/o getting pretty into cocaine
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:02 (seven years ago) link
True, I just think of him as being such a dork
― chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:04 (seven years ago) link
Matt Shipp reviewed Hancock's book for The Talkhouse; what he has to say is actually really interesting.
― the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:05 (seven years ago) link
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fFTt8VZ5V1I/T8V1YL0ugVI/AAAAAAAACEw/Tpqqfwv2jbA/s1600/Hancock_Herbie-_MrBonzai.jpghe does pretty much cop to being a super geek in the book.
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:07 (seven years ago) link
Thanks for posting that Shipp piece! and looking good Herbie!
― chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:21 (seven years ago) link
yes, good write-up!
― tylerw, Thursday, 29 January 2015 22:26 (seven years ago) link
― example (crüt), Thursday, 29 January 2015 23:36 (seven years ago) link
Well, looky here:
― Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 3 March 2015 08:17 (seven years ago) link
interesting that they promoted headhunters as "improvised rock" https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CX4x020WwAA2dIh.png:large(this may have been an ad that showed up in Creem or Rolling Stone, I don't know)
― tylerw, Monday, 4 January 2016 19:13 (six years ago) link
And that they find it spacey? always sounded p grounded, physical, urban, sweaty to me. I dunno, maybe it is psychish...
― niels, Monday, 4 January 2016 21:10 (six years ago) link
yeah compared to sextant, it's definitely more grounded... maybe they thought prog-funk wouldn't get the rockers interested
― tylerw, Monday, 4 January 2016 21:13 (six years ago) link
The "improvised rock" bit funny considering Head Hunters is notable among crossover fusion albums for having no guitars on it. But I would assume the synths on it would've sounded pretty spacey... I think "Chameleon" is among the first notable pop tunes to have a synth bass play the main hook. Obviously it isn't as spacey as the Mwandishi albums that preceded it, but I doubt many of the people who saw this ad had heard them. AFAIK they sold pretty poorly, they've only become regarded as classics posthumously.
― Tuomas, Monday, 4 January 2016 22:42 (six years ago) link
"would've sounded pretty spacey to Rolling Stone readers "
― Tuomas, Monday, 4 January 2016 22:44 (six years ago) link
hey Tuomas, would you recommend a good book on Herbie Hancock/jazz in general? I get the impression you're well-read
― niels, Tuesday, 5 January 2016 07:43 (six years ago) link
Herbie's autobiography that came out a couple of years ago ("Possibilities") is quite good, there's some talk about it upthread. There's also a book-length analysis of Head Hunters (the album) called "Head Hunters: the Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album", which is okay, but it has a lot of music theory, so you might want to skip those bits if that's not your thing. And then there's the book by Bob Gluck focusing on the Mwandishi era ("You'll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band") which I haven't read yet (I should!), but some comments about it upthread too.
― Tuomas, Tuesday, 5 January 2016 08:30 (six years ago) link
― niels, Tuesday, 5 January 2016 08:59 (six years ago) link
Anyway, speaking of Herbie's futurism, I think it's a crucial fact that he was always a gear-head and tech nerd, as the autobioraphy makes abundantly clear... He was actually a studying engineering as well as music at the university, and the book has bits like him geeking out for several paragraphs for having seen an experimental prototype of one of the first laptops back in the 1970s. He also talks a lot about instruments like the Fairlight CMI and how they changed the musical landscape.
Anyway, my point is that while a some piano players (like Chick Corea or Stanley Cowell) turned to electronic keyboards and synths when it was hip to do so in the early 70s, only to abandon them when the became unfashionable again by the 80s (when the Young Lions started disparaging fusion in gerenal), Herbie just got deeper into them. The Mwandishi band was arguably the first band to successfully integrate synth textures into jazz music in way that wasn't merely ornamental of novelty-ish, and by 1980 Herbie was confident enough to have a track on Mr. Hands where every instrument (including the drums and guitar) is played by him on synths. The track itself may sound cheesy today, but at that point few musicians who had first found their fame in traditional acoustic music had gone that far in electronics.
So while Herbie himself admits in autobio that "Rockit" and Future Shock were mostly Laswell/Material projects he was attached to, I'd say he was pretty much the only major jazz musician open enough to the possibilities of sampling/DJing opened up by electro and rap music to pull it through. And it's not like he forgot all that when the Laswell collab ended, since he returned to rap and electronic music with Dis is da Drum and Future 2 Future.
It's only in the 00s that Herbie eased into an elder statesman position, playing mostly older music (though not jazz standards rather than famous tunes from other genres) and mostly on trad keyboards. But since he is already in his 70s, I can accept it, even though his post- Future 2 Future albums have not interested me that much.
― Tuomas, Tuesday, 5 January 2016 09:13 (six years ago) link
god i love Mr. Hands
― AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 8 January 2016 16:47 (six years ago) link
one of the coolest album covers ever btw
― AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 8 January 2016 16:48 (six years ago) link
So this is what's next for Herbie
I've been playing with him every day -- which is very weird, that I play keyboard next to Herbie every day, a very weird thing. I try to be cool, since I'm "the producer" and everything, but then he throws these things at you harmonically, and you have to catch 'em! He is 75, and his ideas -- they're like he's 12 years old. They keep coming every second of the day.
I work with him five days a week. We usually start about 12 or 1 p.m. and I'm done about 5. That's a five-hour session. When I work with a rapper, I can do 15, 20 hours and not be tired. When I leave Herbie's, I'm exhausted. My brain is exhausted -- he stretches my brain so much that I have to leave his house, take a three-hour nap, and then go to work with YG.
...The album I'm doing with him, it's not what you think: Kendrick is on the album, Snoop is on the album. It's not like it's just Herbie Hancock over a hip-hop beat. It's like, I'm really digging into his world, and he's digging into the hip-hop, and we're just trying to figure out a thing. In the process of us trying to figure it out, something is happening magically through the music. Something that I've never heard and he's never heard. Kendrick came over the other day and he was like, "Yo, I hear so many ideas." We're just going in all different directions.
― curmudgeon, Friday, 1 April 2016 19:53 (six years ago) link
That sounds great!
― niels, Saturday, 2 April 2016 06:26 (six years ago) link
― curmudgeon, Monday, 4 April 2016 02:20 (six years ago) link
this Herbie inspired album by Lionel Loueke is nice
― calzino, Tuesday, 3 November 2020 15:42 (one year ago) link
The Terrace Martin produced album he was working on never came out
― X-Prince Protégé (sonnyboy), Tuesday, 3 November 2020 17:56 (one year ago) link
Inventions and Dimensions is such a neat record.
― #fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Saturday, September 14, 2013 9:18 PM (seven years ago) bookmarkflaglink
I just heard this for the first time yesterday and it is extremely neat. Unlike anything else he's done--latin percussion, piano, bass, no horns. One of the best Blue Note LP covers too
― J. Sam, Wednesday, 4 August 2021 13:57 (one year ago) link
Somehow that's the one I always forget about too, even though I said it was neat. I've never really spent enough time with it.
― longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 4 August 2021 16:11 (one year ago) link
happy birthday herbie!
Happy birthday to Herbie Hancock, born on this day in 1940 in Chicago. Here he is demonstrating his Fairlight keyboard and computer recording setup to Quincy Jones in 1984. pic.twitter.com/NoR5R5bdqE— dusttoodigital (@dusttoodigital) April 12, 2022
― mark s, Tuesday, 12 April 2022 16:06 (four months ago) link
Listening on Youtube to a bunch of Herbie this weekend, algorithm brought up a PBS video of him doing a version of "Maiden Voyage" at Madelyn Albright's funeral. Lovely take. It made me curious if there was a connection of either Secretary Albright being a jazz fan or a personal connection.
― earlnash, Sunday, 17 July 2022 23:04 (four weeks ago) link
Albright was active with the Institute for over 25 years, beginning with her tenure as United States Secretary of State, when she was instrumental in bringing Institute artists to serve a key role at the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, and hosted receptions for the Institute’s annual Competition in Washington, D.C. She subsequently became a close friend and generous supporter of the Institute.
Albright believed fervently in the power of the arts, most especially jazz, to forge bonds that transcend political, national, linguistic, religious or ethnic barriers, and to bolster the foundations of democracy. This conviction led her to share her talents frequently with the Institute, from serving as a mentor and advisor on cultural diplomacy, to lending her talents on the drums for Institute events from time to time. She was instrumental in helping the Institute expand its global impact through initiatives including U.S. State Department Tours and International Jazz Day.
Madame Secretary, you will be greatly missed.
― earlnash, Tuesday, 19 July 2022 00:44 (four weeks ago) link
― the cat needs to start paying for its own cbd (map), Tuesday, 19 July 2022 01:38 (four weeks ago) link
please no using RIP on yhe Herbie Hancock thread in any context
― Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 19 July 2022 02:08 (four weeks ago) link
Yes, got scared too.
― L.H.O.O.Q. Jones (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 July 2022 02:14 (four weeks ago) link
when she was instrumental in bringing Institute artists to serve a key role at the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile
― Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 4 August 2022 18:35 (one week ago) link
Been listening to FLOOD nonstop - man so much killer shit on here.
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 4 August 2022 19:08 (one week ago) link
― budo jeru, Thursday, 4 August 2022 20:34 (one week ago) link
Wow that's one of those songs I've heard a million times but never out of context, always after Watermelon Man. What a complete jam it is.
Takes so little to decontextualize a tune and make it sound fresh. Thanks!
― corrs unplugged, Friday, 5 August 2022 07:10 (one week ago) link