Sunday, May 25, 2008

CD Review: Ken Burns Jazz - Herbie Hancock


1) Watermelon Man
2) Cantaloupe Island
3) Maiden Voyage
4) Speak Like a Child
5) Tell Me a Bedtime Story
6) Chameleon
7) Actual Proof
8) RockIt
9) You Got It Bad Girl
The Ken Burns Jazz series does a fantastic job celebrating the legends of the genre. In this installment, we get a well-selected overview of the career of a great pianist and composer, Herbie Hancock. He's been in the business for many years, and his music has changed with the times.
With each track, one can chart the many stops Hancock has made on his career path. It kicks off with the distinct piano riff and blasting horns of "Watermelon Man", and those stylistic motifs occur again in "Cantaloupe Island". Things calm down for the laid-back title track to one of Hancock's finest albums, Maiden Voyage.
Then things start to get interesting with a turn towards Latin in "Speak Like a Child" and the funk of "Tell Me a Bedtime Story". The latter track is the first sign of fusion on the disc, with Hancock bringing the cool on an electric piano. Then, we get an electric funk masterpiece, "Chameleon", representing another classic album, Head Hunters.
We continue down the funky road with the frantic "Actual Proof" before entering the 80s with "Rockit". You know that song. You love that song. The same guy who made all that cool jazz in the 60s, now with vocoder, synthesizers, and turntables? And then they end the album with a return to classic grooves, "You Got It Bad Girl"?
Over the decades, Hancock has dared to expand and experiment. This retrospective summarizes the many different styles he has played his cool tunes in. Introduce yourself to a legend, and be amazed.
***** out of five

2 comments:

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