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herbie hancock

Herbie Hancock

b. Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, 12th April 1940, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Herbie Hancock is a fine Jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.

Herbie was born in Chicago, Illinois.

He attended the Wendell Phillips High School in East Pershing Rd in Chicago, initially beginning with a classical musical education.

Showing some remarkable promise as a child, Herbie was influenced by the vocal group the Hi-Lo's.

By 1960, he became a student of the artist Chris Anderson, and later began working with Donald Byrd and Coleman Hawkins.

Herbie also attended the Roosevelt University in Chicago.

As his reputation age, Herbie began collaborating with Oliver Nelson and Phil Woods.

By 1962, he had signed to Blue Note Records releasing his debut album ‘Takin' Off’’.

Herbie Hancock

miles davis, herbie, ron carter & wayne shorter in 1962

The album brought Herbie to the attention of Miles Davis, who was looking for a keyboard player at the time.

He then joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963, with whom he remained for five years, whilst continuing to release his solo material for Blue Note Records.

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takin' off - 1962 / my point of view - 1963 / inventions and dimensions - 1964 / maiden voyage - 1965

His solo material for Blue Note continued up until 1969, featuring the albums ‘My Point Of View’ (in 1963), ‘Inventions and Dimensions’ (in 1964), ‘Empyrean Isles’ (in 1964), ‘Maiden Voyage’ (in 1965), ’Speak Like A Child’ (in 1968) and ‘The Prisoner’ (in 1969).

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blow-up - 1966 / speak like a child - 1968 / fat albert rotunda - 1969 / crossings - 1972

Herbie also played on several East Coast recording sessions for producer Creed Taylor, which included the soundtrack to ’Blow Up', which became the first of many movie soundtrack projects.

Herbie left the Miles Davis Quintet in 1968.

He released the album ’Fat Albert Rotunda' a year later for the Warner Bros. imprint.

By 1970, Herbie was studying Buddhism, which saw him briefly change his name for his recorded material, such as for the album ‘Mwandishi’ in 1971.

Mwandishi being a Swahili name he sometimes used (‘Mwandishi’ is Swahili for ‘writer’).

1972, saw the release of ‘Crossings’, which was followed by ‘Sextant’ a year later (the first release following a label switch to Columbia Records).

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head hunters - 1973 / thrust - 1974 / man-child - 1975 / secrets - 1976

In 1973, Herbie released the album ‘Head Hunters', which showcased a musical emergence towards a more funkier/fusion style.

The album featured the hugely popular track ‘Chameleon’.

Herbie was beginning to master the synthesiser and develop his sound, showcased by a series of excellent releases, including ‘Thrust’ (in 1974), ‘Death Wish’ (in 1974), ‘Flood’ (in 1975), ‘Man-Child’ (in 1975), ‘Secrets’ (in 1976) and ‘V.S.O.P’ (in 1977).

Over this era, Herbie was a featured session musician on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 tour de force 'Songs In The Key Of Life' and was later the producer on the Webster Lewis's project '8 for The Eighties'.

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v.s.o.p - 1977 / sunlight - 1978 / feets don't fail me now - 1979 / directstep - 1979

In 1978, Herbie released one of his most commercial (and successful) fusion album releases in the album ’Sunlight’.

The album featured the club anthem ‘I Thought It Was You’, where Herbie utilised his synthesiser to correct any ‘anomalies’ in his own vocal delivery.

1979’s ‘Feets Don’t Fail Me Now’ continued the format, embellishing the sound with a disco format, showcased in the single ‘You Bet Your Love’.

The same year, Herbie enlisted the help of Webster Lewis, Alphonse Mouzon, Bennie Maupin, Bill Summers and Ray Obiedo, for a ‘direct to vinyl’ recorded album in Japan, entitled ‘Directstep’ (which featured a complete side of the album recording of ‘I Thought It Was You’.

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monster - 1980 / mr. hands - 1980 / magic windows - 1981 / lite me up - 1982

1980’s album ‘Monster’ featured some of Herbie’s most Soulful recordings including ‘Making Love’, ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ and ‘Saturday Night’.

He immediately followed the album with a more fusion based record entitled ‘Mr Hands’ (featuring ‘Just Around The Corner’).

1981’s ‘Magic Windows’ was a much more soulful release, which was followed by ‘Lite Me Up’, a collaboration with Rod Temperton from the group Heatwave.

The album featured the popular ‘Getting To The Good Part’, ‘Motor Mouth’ and ’The Bomb’.

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future shock - 1983 / sound system - 1984 / perfect machine - 1988 / dis is da drum - 1994

1983’s album ‘Future Shock’ featured the surprise hit single 'Rockit’ (often considered the first jazz hip-hop song), which showcased a more electronic sound than his previous outings.

In 1984, ’Sound System’ featured the fusion track ‘Karabali’, which received some radio airplay at the time.

In 1986, he recorded the soundtrack album to the Dexter Gordon movie ‘Round Midnight’, for which he won an Academy Award for Original Music Score..

After releasing ’Perfect Machine' in 1988, Herbie left the Columbia imprint after 15 years.

He signed to several labels intermittently, including Qwest, which saw the release of the album ’A Tribute To Miles' in 1994.

That year he signed to PolyGram Records, enabling him to release Jazz records for the likes of Verve/Mercury Records.

1994’s album, ‘Dis Is da Drum’, showcased the performer in a more acid jazz format.

That year Herbie appeared on the Red Hot Organization's A.I.D.S awareness compilation album ‘Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool’.

In 1998 Herbie released the album ‘Gershwin's World’, which featured interpretations of George and Ira Gershwin standards by Herbie, along with Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Wayne Shorter.

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gershwin's world - 1998 / future 2 future - 2001 / river - the joni letters - 2007 / imagine project - 2010

He released ‘Future2Future’ in 2001, which Herbie collaborated with Bill Laswell and Rob Swift of The X-Ecutioners.

The trio toured to support the album, continuing through 2005.

In 2005 Herbie released a duet album entitled ‘Possibilities’.

Featured artists included Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, and Sting.

In 2006 Sony BMG Music Entertainment picked up the rights to Herbie’s Columbia catalogue releasing ‘The Essential Herbie Hancock’.

Herbie Hancock

herbie with joni mitchell

In 2007 Herbie released the album ‘River: The Joni Letters’, his own tribute to Joni Mitchell, the singer and songwriter.

The album featured contributions from Norah Jones, Tina Turner and Corinne Bailey Rae.

‘River’ won the 2008 Album of the Year Grammy Award.

In 2010 Herbie released ‘The Imagine Project’ and in 2013 was given the Kennedy Center Honors Award for achievement in the performing arts.

Herbie Hancock

Differing from Miles Davis’ ‘driven’ career, Herbie’s music has taken the artist on a longer journey, veering between almost every development in electronic/acoustic jazz and R&B over the last third of the 20th century.

Real Player


Takin' Off (Blue Note Records 1962)

My Point of View (Blue Note Records 1963)

Inventions and Dimensions (Blue Note Records 1963)

Empyrean Isles (Blue Note Records 1964)

Maiden Voyage (Blue Note Records 1965)

Hancock (Blue Note Records 1968)

Speak Like a Child (Blue Note Records 1968)

The Prisoner (Blue Note Records 1969)

Fat Albert Rotunda (Warner Brothers Records 1969)

Mwandishi (Warner Brothers Records 1970)

Crossings (Warner Brothers Records 1971)

Sextant (Columbia Records 1972)

Head Hunters (Columbia Records 1973)

Dedication (CBS/Sony Records 1974)

Thrust (Columbia Records 1974)

Death Wish (One Way Records 1974)

In Concert, Vol. 2 [live] (CTI Records 1975)

Flood (A & M Records 1975)

Love Me by Name (A & M Records 1975)

Man-Child (Columbia Records 1976)

Secrets (Columbia Records 1976)

Happy the Man (Arista Records 1976)

Kawaida (GB Records 1976)

The Herbie Hancock Trio [1977] (Columbia Records 1977)

V.S.O.P. The Quintet (Columbia Records 1977)

Live in Japan (Columbia Records 1977)

V.S.O.P. the Quintet: Tempest in the... [live] (CBS/Sony Records 1977)

Tempest in the Colosseum (Columbia Records 1977)

Sunlight (Columbia Records 1978)

An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick... [live] (Columbia Records 1978)

Direct Step (Columbia Japan Records 1978)

The Piano (Columbia Records 1978)

Live Under The Sky (Columbia Records 1979)

In Concert [Duets] [live] (CBS Records 1979)

Feets, Don't Fail Me Now (Columbia Records 1979)

Jingle Bells Jazz (Columbia Records 1979)

Direct Step (Japanese Sony Records 1979)

Mr. Hands (Columbia Records 1980)

Monster (Columbia Records 1980)

Quartet (Columbia Records 1981)

Herbie Hancock Quartet (Columbia Records 1981)

Double Rainbow (Columbia Records 1981)

By All Means (MPS Records 1981)

Magic Windows (Columbia Records 1981)

Lite Me Up (Columbia Records 1982)

Future Shock (Columbia Records 1983)

Sound-System (Columbia Records 1984)

Village Life (Columbia Records 1985)

Jazz Africa [live] (Verve Records 1986)

Third Plane (Carerre Records 1986)

Perfect Machine (Columbia Records 1988)

Songs for My Father (Blue Note Records 1988)

Dis Is Da Drum (Mercury Records 1993)

Jamming (Royal Co. Records 1994)

Jammin' with Herbie (Prime Cuts Records 1995)

Canteloupe Island (Blue Note Records 1995)

New Standard (Verve Records 1995)

In Concert [live] (Tristar Records 1996)

Living Jazz (Graphix Zone Records 1996)

1+1 (Polygram Records 1997)

Gershwin's World ([Japan] Import Records 1998)

Gershwin's World (Polygram Records 1998)

Night Walker (Direct Source Records 2000)

Future 2 Future (Transparent Records 2001)

Possibilities (Warner Brothers Records 2005)

River: The Joni Letters (Verve Records 2007)

The Imagine Project (Hancock Records 2010)

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