Herbie Hancock recorded for Columbia between 1972 and 1988. During that period, between the label's American and Japanese divisions, he released 31 albums, both solo and with an astonishing variety of players in an equally breathtaking panorama of styles, from straight-ahead post-bop, to fusion, jazz-funk, disco, R&B, smooth jazz, and even hip-hop. Though Hancock had a celebrated career before signing to Columbia, it was his longest label association; and during his tenure there, he experienced his greatest commercial success and his name was etched permanently into the history of popular music. This box set contains 34 discs – 28 single and three double albums – all housed in handsome individual LP and gatefold sleeves.
Gershwin's World is a tour de force for Herbie Hancock, transcending genre and label, and ranking among the finest recordings of his lengthy career. Released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of George Gershwin's birth, this disc features jazzman Hancock with a classy collection of special guests. GERSHWIN'S WORLD won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual Or Group. "St. Louis Blues" won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s).
Perhaps the funkiest album of Herbie Hancock's early- to mid-'70s jazz/funk/fusion era, Man-Child starts off with the unforgettable "Hang Up Your Hang Ups," and the beat just keeps coming until the album's end. "Sun Touch" and "Bubbles" are slower, but funky nonetheless. Hancock is the star on his arsenal of keyboards, but guitarist Wah Wah Watson's presence is what puts a new sheen on this recording, distinguishing it from its predecessors, Head Hunters and Thrust. Others among the all-star cast of soloists and accompanists include Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica, and longtime Hancock cohort Bennie Maupin on an arsenal of woodwinds.
In the grand tradition of sequels, Sound-System picks up from where Future Shock left off – if anything, even louder and more bleakly industrial than before (indeed, "Hardrock" is "Rockit" with a heavier rock edge). Yet Hancock's experiments with techno-pop were leading him in the general direction of Africa, explicitly so with the addition of the Gambian multi-instrumentalist Foday Musa Suso on half of the tracks. "Junku," written for the 1984 Olympic Games with Suso's electrified kora in the lead, is the transition track that stands halfway between "Rockit" and Hancock's mid-'80s Afro-jazz fusions. Also, "Karabali" features an old cohort, the squealing Wayne Shorter on soprano sax. Despite succumbing a bit to the overwhelming demand for more "Rockits," Hancock's electric music still retained its adventurous edge.
Set upon recapturing the pop ground he had invaded with Future Shock, Hancock relies upon many of the former's ingredients for yet another go-'round on Perfect Machine. High-tech producer Bill Laswell is back, so is scratchmaster D. ST. – and armed with a warehouse of mostly digital keyboards, Hancock adds the distinctive bass of Bootsy Collins and the Ohio Players' vocalist Sugarfoot, who always sounds as if he had just swallowed something. The music is mostly thumping, funk-drenched techno-pop which still has some verve, particularly the designated single "Vibe Alive" and the "Maiden Voyage" interlude as heard through an electronic fun-house mirror. But this is not really an advance over Hancock's early-'80s pop projects.
This odd anthology from Atlantic reissues selections from trio dates recorded during the 1960s by Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, along with otherwise unobtainable early recordings by McCoy Tyner. Jarrett is joined by Charlie Haden and Paul Motian on two originals, both of which show the obvious influence of Bill Evans. Chick Corea is accompanied by Steve Swallow (on acoustic bass rather than the electric bass he switched to a short time later) and Joe Chambers. The pianist's "Tones for Joan's Bones" is swinging, but not nearly as driving as his works in the decades to follow, while his reworking of the show tune "This Is New" features Joe Farrell and Woody Shaw; both tracks also show the influence of Bill Evans.