Saturday, 20 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: Edith And The Kingpin (2008)

River: The Joni Letters is a tribute album is to Joni Mitchell, a longtime associate and friend of Hancock. Both Hancock and saxophonist Wayne Shorter previously collaborated with Mitchell on her 1979 album Mingus, and both continued to collaborate on occasion ever since. The album won the Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album at the 2008 Grammy Awards, beating off competition from Kanye West, Foo Fighters and Amy Winehouse.
This track is Edith And The Kingpin, originally written by Mitchell for her 1975 album 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns' and features Tina Turner. Herbie has a way of finding new levels from artists; Tina should really do more material with him.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: Ionosphere (2001)

The true follow-up album to Future Shock, 2001's Future2Future proved yet again that Herbie had his finger on the pulse of musical progression; a jazz-funk-mild drum n' bass mashup which on paper may sound like a recipe for sonic disaster, but in the hands of the master these elements are forged into a truly great album. And Ionosphere is just beautiful.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: Rockit Live At The 1983 Grammy Awards

This was actually the first Herbie Hancock track I heard as a kid; we're talking the days of breakdancing, bodypoppin' and Electro. Naturally I though that this kinda music was Herbie's stock in trade; imagine my surprise to discover it was by a man who started as a contemporary to the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane! Prodigious talents that they are, could you image those two doing something like this? Thats the gravity of the effect that this track and the appropriately-named album Future Shock had when they were released.
For your delectation, the live version from the 1983 Grammy awards; check out the dancers, absolutely superb. This particular song is what I associate with the whole MTV phenomenon; innovation, style, technology. And lets not forget the clavitar.
Damn, Herbie was ahead of his time.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: You Bet Your Love (1979)

I'll forgo the better-known I Though It Was You to highlight a lesser-known example of Herbie's vocoder period; 1979's 'You Bet Your Love' from the fantastic Feets Don't fail Me Now. The album featured amongst many others, "Ready" Freddie Washington, ace session musician for the like of Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, B.B. King, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston and many more; and Ray Parker Jr, he of Raydio and a little-known track called Ghostbusters.
Hancock and Roger (Zapp) Troutman really blazed a trail with voice manipulation at this time, and the tunes were tight.
Herbie does disco? Oh, helll yeah.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: Wiggle Waggle (1969)

The start of a turning point in Herbie Hancock's musical style towards his 70's Jazz-funk period. The album that Wiggle Waggle is from (the 1969 release Fat Albert Rotunda) is a perfect example of classic songs such as Tell Me a Bedtime Story (which later turned up also on the 1978 Quincy Jones album, Sounds...and Stuff Like That in a more funk-esque type song) and Jessica which later turned up on the 1977 Hancock album, VSOP: The Quintet.
A song that evokes a certain image in my head; one of cruising the Vegas strip, replete with black rollneck, dogtooth jacket and a 1965 Chrysler 300L Convertible to squeeze every last drop out of this tune. Vegas Cool y'all. So cool in fact, that King B sampled the start in it's entirety on Back By Dope Demand.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Herbie Hancock Week: Watermelon Man (1962)

Herbie Hancock was 73 on the 12th April. The word 'legend' is all too frequently used to describe people who really aren't worthy of the description, but in Mr Hancock's case it's underselling the man. A true musical chameleon (pun intended) who can change his musical mood like you or I change underwear. Only The Dame himself, David Bowie can get anywhere near rivalling his musical versatility.
Lets take a look this week at some of the many ages of Hancock.


The original version of Watermelon Man, released on Hancock's debut 1962 album, Takin' Off, was released as a hard bop composition and featured improvisations by Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon. A single of the tune reached the Billboard Top 100 chart. Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaría released the song as a Latin pop single the next year on Battle Records, where it became a surprise hit, reaching no.10 on the pop charts; Santamaría's recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Hancock radically re-worked the song, combining elements of funk, for the 1973 album Head Hunters.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Sweetback feat. Maxwell - Softly Softly [Epic 1996]

Sweetback are a jazz/funk band with R&B overtones, made up of Stuart Matthewman (guitar, saxophone) Paul Spencer Denman (bass) and Andrew Hale (piano, keyboards). They have been recording with female vocalist Sade Adu since 1984, and trio formed Sweetback in 1994 at the end of Sade's Love Deluxe world tour. Their albums feature a host of guest vocalists such as Leroy Osbourne, Amel Larrieux, Aya (Lysa Aya Trenier), Bahamadia, Chocolate Genius, El Debarge and Maxwell, who features on lead vocals on this track, Softly Softly which was released on the album Sweetback in 1996.