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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Musical Chameleon

The amazing Herbie Hancock is 71 today. My generation knows Mr. Hancock mostly for his contribution to the Hip Hop world of the early 80s with "Rockit"' one of the first popular singles to feature scratching (by Grandmixer D.ST). The music video (directed by Godley & Creme) also broke new artistic ground, featuring innovative sculptures by Jim Whiting.

Herbie Hancock - Rockit by madafonka2
Hancock really got his break playing in what would be known as Miles Davis's "second great quintet"' in the sixties. Davis hand-picked the Hancock, immediately recognizing the young man's skill as a pianist. Here are Davis and company in 1964, with Hancock at piano:

Miles Davis - My Funny Valentine 1964 by Yedi
Working with Davis brought great attention to one Hancock's earlier compositions, "Watermelon Man," which has since been covered many times.

Herbie Hancock - WaterMelon Man by Saklas
The Headhunters, which Hancock referred to in the above video, was a band that he formed in the seventies when he wanted to move more into playing Funk, ala Sly Stone. The Headhunters' music would have a heavy influence on the world of funk and eventually hip hop.

Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters Chameleon (74) by blindmind
Hancock is still recording (he released the album, The Imagine Project, last summer) and he played as part of the inaugural celebrations for President Barack Obama.
This cover of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up" (from the aforementioned The Imagine Project) features P!nk and John Legend.

Pink and John Legend Don't Give Up ft. by 3nada
Happy Birthday, Mr. Hancock!

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