Herbie Hancock on Blue Note

Originally considered a child prodigy without a formal Jazz education, Herbie Hancock, who turned 79 on the 12th of April, has become one of the most celebrated and innovative artists in any music genre. As a lead artist, he has released 41 albums of original material in an almost 60 year recording career. He is currently on tour with Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington.

Creativity and artistic endeavors have a mission that goes far beyond just making music for the sake of music.

Herbie Hancock

After starting his career off as a sideman for another Jazz legend, Donald Byrd, Hancock was offered the opportunity to record his own material and his own band for the Blue Note Records label in 1962. In addition to the seven albums he would record for the legendary label, he also started recording film soundtracks and worked as a sideman on many iconic sessions, including seminal work by Miles Davis.

Though many Jazz musicians aren’t known for producing singles, Hancock has had many, including Watermelon Man, his first, which became a classic Soul Jazz recording by Mongo Santamaria a year later. Cover design by Reid Miles, photo by Francis Wolf, courtesy of Blue Note Records.

These albums not just were the beginning of a very long, productive and celebrated recording career, they are often cited as some of the most amazing Jazz recordings in history, with even contemporary reviewers being complete knocked out by Hancock’s style, which often drew on other forms of Black music, particularly R&B, something he would eventually use to expand the vocabulary of Jazz music beyond it’s expected norms.

Hancock eventually left Blue Note in 1969 to record several transitional albums for Warner Brothers before becoming one of the best-selling Jazz Fusion artists of the 1970’s on Columbia with Head Hunters and again breaking with all convention by 1983 by infusing Jazz with Hip-Hop on the album Future Shock, becoming one of the first Jazz artists to embrace the music video revolution with “Rockit”.

Herbie Hancock On Blue Note Playlist

  • Watermelon Man, 1962, Takin’ Off
  • Succotash, 1964, Inventions and Dimensions
  • Little One, 1966, Maiden Voyage
  • King Cobra, 1963, My Point of View
  • Speak Like a Child, 1968, Speak Like a Child
  • The Prisoner, 1969, The Prisoner
  • One Finger Snap (alternate take), 1964, Empyrean Isles
  • Cantaloupe Island, 1964, Empyrean Isles

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Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer

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