By Herbie Hancock I have, in a couple of mp3 collections: Maiden Voyage 1965/ Blow Up 1966 / Jazz Africa 1986/ Village Life 1985/ Round Midnight 1986/ VSOP 1977/ Sextant 1973/ Thrust 1974/Future Shock 1983/ Sound System 1984. As stand-alones I have: Head Hunters 1973, In Concert with Chick Corea 1978, Dis is Da Drum 1994, The New Standards 1996, 1+1 with Wayne Shorter 1997, Directions in Music 2002, The Joni Letters 2007.
So I am a bit of fan but not as compulsive as I was about Coltrane. Hancock’s career spans decades (from the 50’s to now), genres, styles & fads. The early work is impeccable, tasteful acoustic jazz piano in various groupings. His early solo work is inventive, melodic & not overly aggressive. His work with Miles Davis is equally as strong, even when he solos with Davis he is in the background. He was never a keyboard show-off.
Then came fusion which was pretty much launched by Miles Davis’s monumental Bitch’s Brew. Hancock played with Davis but does not appear on the Brew recordings. Brew resulted in a jazz/rock fusion explosion with amazing work by John Mclaughlin, Larry Coryell, Chick Corea, Weather Report & of course Hancock. While the bulk of these musicians stuck to their jazz roots Hancock went further & further & ended up deep in electronica – some of his lps were called sound effects by reviewers at the time. This is when I started listening to him 🙂 The first might have been Sextant, which I still find hypnotic.
Unlike some of the other fusioniers he never got caught up in eastern mysticism instead he went back to his African roots for some excellent lps. His pop MTV break through was Rockit where he explored, the then state of the art dj scratching & other hip-hop recording techniques – programmed beats & the like. This lead to This Is The Drum with experiments in sampling, mixed with his funky jazz which were, to my ear, highly successful.
He didn’t abandon ‘pure’ jazz & released great work with V.O.S.P & duets with Chick Corea. Playful & worth tracking down. He then returned to a more traditional sound with The New Standards, & 1+1 with Wayne Shorter. Sweet evocative & kind of sexy. The most recent piece I have, a gift from a friend, is The Joni Letters – this is a tasteful & intense set of jazz explorations of Joni Mitchell. A remarkable album by a musician who was always unafraid of exploration & challenging himself.
“You aren’t the boss of me.” How many times did I yell that at my stupid brother before he smacked me?
“I may not be the boss of you, but my hands are. So shut the fuck up, or we won’t go the beach again.”
I sat in the back seat of the car, pulled myself into a corner and glared at him.
“And if you are thinking of telling Dad – think again – because I know what you did.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Prove it.” My brother smiled over his shoulder.
“Just because you are two years older than me & can drive the car, doesn’t give you …”
“I said shut the fuck up. Or I’ll … lock you in the cabin for the day. At least I’m taking you out to the beach. What more do you want.”
“When did Dad say you could take the car?”
“He said I could drive it as long as I stick to the private road to the lake. I’ll do that.” He stopped to turn around to swing at me again. “If you just shut the fuck up.”
I yanked the car door open and ran down the dirt road.
“Where do you think you’re going? There’s no where to run to you little twerp.”
It didn’t take him long to catch me. Him the sixteen year old football hero. Me the runty little brother. Sometimes people didn’t believe we were brothers, we were so different. Him big bulky. Me small pale. I’d rather read but was always forced to go with him even when he didn’t want to take me. Going to the beach was his idea.
He had me in a head lock and was dragging me back to the car.
“You fucking little shit head. I’m not going to put up with this all weekend. I told Dad not to send you up here, but no he though it would you good to get out of the house for awhile. You little prick. Now if you don’t behave I’ll have to … tie you up & lock you in the trunk.”
I wriggled out of his sweaty arms. “You aren’t the boss of me. Just leave me here. I can find my way back to the cabin. I don’t want to go the beach while you mope around with those ugly girls from Peter’s Point anyway.”
“Good. I’ll leave you here.”
He got back in the car and drove down the lane. He stuck his head out the window. “By the way the cabin is locked. Have fun. Fuck head.”
He drove away. I squeezed the spare key to the cabin in my pocket.
every Tuesday 2019
15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible
June – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org