Herbie Hancock

Jazz to Funk

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Fans of the legendary jazz innovator and spirited '60s jazz (and that era's soundtrack music) are the best market for this two-CD hodgepodge of rare recordings either composed by or featuring some typically exciting performances by Herbie Hancock. If you can get through the first few minutes of the noodling warm-up atonalities on the disc one opener, "Maulana," you'll experience the swinging fun of four tracks with African titles from a 1969 session that was originally released as the LP Kawaida by drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. Hancock may have been designated as a sideman originally, but his colorful, grooving piano tones (which indeed roll in the spirit of "Cantaloupe Island") truly stand out among the horns of Don Cherry and Jimmy Heath. Disc two is a batch of sizzling outtakes from the soundtrack session for the film Blow Up (do you remember?) featuring Hancock jamming with fellow future legends Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and Phil Woods. The strutting, percussive bounce of "Jammin' with Herbie" defines the overall vibe of the sessions, although there are sweet softer moments on the following track, "Herbie's Blues." The last three tracks, while not as artistically satisfying, are worthwhile because they were Hancock compositions for the film that were eventually scrapped. He doesn't play on them, but the vibe -- which is admittedly dated but totally takes the listener back to that time -- melds all the jazz, pop, Brazilian, and surf guitar clich├ęs the era's soundtracks were famous for. Overall, this is a curious collection, but one every Hancock fan will want to have.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick