Essay on Herbert Hancock

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University of Richmond
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Herbie Hancock was an American who was born on April 12, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois in the United States. His real birth name is Herbert Jeffrey Hancock. His parents named him after Herb Jeffries who was a singer and an actor as well. Like most Jazz pianist, Hancock started with outstanding music education after he had begun his schooling in Hyde Park Academy. Herbert attended Grinnell College which he later left after he had moved to Chicago. During his working period with Donald Byrd and Coleman Hawkins, he undertook various courses in Roosevelt University. Hancock was awarded a degree in music and also electrical engineering (Hancock).

Herbie Hancock is an American actor, composer, keyboardist, bandleader and a pianist. He has many songs which have helped him to achieve his success among the pop audiences. Hancock's talent was recognized when he was still young and started to be referred to as a child prodigy. At this time he was seven years old. On February 5, 1952, at a young peoples concert is where Hancock performed his first Mozarts Piano Concert, during this time he was 11 years old. As a result of his good reputation, he played several jams with Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson (D'Rivera).

He started his career with Donald Byrd whereby after that he went to join Miles Davis Quintet. Herbie helped Miles to be able to redefine the role of jazz on the rhythm part. Hancock is regarded as one of the post-bop sound architects. Herber embraced funk music and synthesizers whereby he was the first Jazz musician to do so. The first album that he recorded while alone was in 1962 the Taking Off for Blue Note Records. Some his famous compositions include the Cantaloupe Island, Maiden Voyage, Chameleon, Rock It, and I Thought It Was You. The Watermelon man song was later a lot of musicians performed including Mongo Santamaria who was a bandleader. He has won various Jazz album awards which include his 2007 tribute Album River: The Joni letters which were the winner of the Grammy Award Album of the year in 2008, in the year 1965 he had also won an award with Gilberto. He considers Chris Anderson to be his mentor when it comes to harmonies to the extent he even begged him to accept him to be his student.

Through his recording of Taking Off that caught the attention of many including Miles Davis who was by that time organizing a new band Hancock got recognized. He became part of Davis Second great Quintet as Davis considered him as having a great talent in Jazz. Hancock would play the piano during the Jazz session, and Tony Williams would play the drums. The quintet is one of the great jazz ensembles. During the second quintet which was considered to be great Hancock was able to find his voice while still playing the piano. He later started to use Debussy as harmonies and also quartal harmony. While still working at the Davis Hancock was able to record a variety of sessions under his name for the Blue Note Label. He also recorded with other musicians who included Rivers, Byrd, Grant Green, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and as well as Kenny Dorham where he acted as a sideman (Fellezs).

Hancock had two albums that were considered to be the most influential Jazz LPs and as well as famous during 1960 that is the Maiden Voyage album (1965) and the Empyrean Isles album (1965).They were innovative and easily accessible. These two albums are usually referred to as the major foundations of the post-bop style. The Empyrean Isles album consisted of the rhythm section of Hancock, Williams and as well as Carter. On the other hand, the Maiden Voyage included Coleman who used to play the saxophone in the Davis band. Other albums that were recorded by Hancock though they are not very famous are the "speak like a child" album which was recorded in the year 1968, my point of view album which he recorded in 1963 and The prisoner which he recorded in 1969 and it featured alto flute, bass trombone, and flugelhorn. Another album that Hancock was featured in is the inventions and Dimensions album which consists of music that is much improvised, other musicians who were featured on this album include Paul Chambers, Osvaldo, and Willie Bobo.

Hancock was able to compose films as well. During the same period, he recorded his first film sound tracks that are the score to Michelangelo Antonionis in the year 1966.Through his film recording, he was able to record a variety of musical themes that are used in the television commercials by the Americans. The commercial adverts that mostly used his themes included the Standard oil, tab diet and Virginia slims cigarettes. He was able to compose a sound track which was controversial to the film of "Spook Who Sat by the Door" in the year 1973.The following year he came up with the sound track that was used in the film of Death Wish.

After Hancock had been removed from the Davis band, he organized a sextet on his own in the year 1968. He composed music soundtrack for animated prime-time television special for Bill Cosbys. He started to use electronic equipment in his Jazz music. His first Jam that he performed using the electronic instruments was with Buster Williams and Billy Hart who was a great drummer. Hancock is considered since then to be the first jazz pianist who was able to perform with the keyboard that was electronic completely. They recorded three albums which were under Hancocks name, the Mwandishi album, the Sextant album and the crossings album. The three albums were recorded between the year 1971 and 1973.They were all electronic albums and hence they could be played on the 2-CD set (Gluck).

In the year 1973 Hancock organized another band which he named the Headhunters after studying Buddhism and through his faith that became possible. This was contributed by his interest in funk music as well as the love that he had for RnB music and hence he wanted to become so as well. In the same year with the help of the new band that he had forms they released a new album titled Head Hunters and it was a great hit to his audiences in the pop sector but was as well criticized by some of his fans in the jazz sector. They later composed another album the Thrust in the year 1974.Other albums that he composed as jazz-funk was the Secrets which was recorded in the year 1976 and man child that he recorded in the year 1975 (Hancock, et al).

Despite being criticized about his funk music he did not stop and continued to work on innovations of bebop in various groups which included V.S.O.P. In the year 1983 together with bassit and Bill Laswell who was a producer they recorded the Future Shock album which was regarded as a landmark since it acted as a revolution for the jazz-hip hop hit. Up to date Hancock is seen to have a great commitment in the music industry and mostly the jazz and pop and is ready to push the music to higher knot .This was clearly seen in his latest disk the Directions in Music: Live at massey Hall. According to Herbie Hancock he thinks that the reason as to why he will always get himself involved in music that will mostly be meant for the youth is because he was once a youth and hence it wont be easy for him to forget such a fact and the youth seeds are still within him as long as they are not killed. Over the years after releasing the many albums Hancock has been able to win himself a great reputation of being considered a great music composer who has explored various genres that are used in the music industry apart from the traditional jazz .He explored the fusion, RnB and hip-hop music widely and this brought a great change in the music industry. He played different forms of music as well. Hancock is now a practioner where by his spiritual believes help him in his philosophies as well as art. By the year 2013 Herbie had won a total of fourteen Grammy Awards .In 2014 he started lecturing at the Harvard University.

Works Cited

D'Rivera, Paquito. 8 Technical and Articulation Exercises for Latin Jazz Patterns: For Almost All Instruments. Publishers Licensing Corporation, 1996.

Fellezs, Kevin. Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion. Duke Univ. P, 2011.

Gluck, Bob. You'll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band. 2014.

Hancock, Herbie. Herbie Hancock. United Audio, 2007.

Hancock, Herbie, et al. Herbie Hancock. JA Records, 1979.

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