It's hard to believe that the longtime jazz wunderkind is turning 80 next year, but it's a source of great joy to realize that one of the all time great jazz composer-bandleaders (much like his fellow Miles Davis vet and frequent collaborator, Wayne Shorter) is still very much with us, and active as ever. Seventy years ago, Hancock was already making waves as a classical piano prodigy in his native Chicago, and quickly graduated to the big time when he joined the legendary Miles Davis "'60s" quintet (alongside Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Mr. Shorter). Both working with Davis and in a concurrent series of his own albums for Blue Note Records, Mr. Hancock stretched the musical boundaries of jazz, experimenting with modal style (jazz improvisation based on modes rather than traditional western chords), sometimes pushing it to the brink of free jazz, and other avant-garde notions. Next, and again, both with Davis and on his own, Hancock was then part of the movement to incorporate electronic instruments and elements of rock music into jazz, which he achieved with both characteristic creativity and considerable popular success. Since the early '60s, Herbie Hancock has been a transcendent beacon for all contemporary American music, and it's only fitting for him to share the bill with the contemporary multi-instrumentalist and singer Thundercat, who also draws on a wide range of genres, including jazz and funk.
Mr. Hancock's band features Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, James Genus on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin.
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For the Herbie Hancock Essentials playlist on Apple Music, please click here.