Herbie Hancock is one of the few jazz musicians, whose name is well known not only to fans of improvised music. The pianist, the player of Fender Rhodes electric piano, one of the best experts in synthesizers in jazz music, composer and producer Herbie Hancock joined an elite group of jazz musicians in the early 1960s’. For his 50-year career, the musician tried his hand in a variety of genres, sometimes causing the outrage his fans by radical changes in style. While someone was indignant, Herbie gained new fans and make discoveries which influenced the generations of musicians appearing after him. Like his former "boss" and mentor, trumpeter Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock never stood still, but evolved and changed with the outside world, always listening to what is happening around. To this day, each new work of Herbie causes a genuine interest of his fellow musicians and jazz music fans around the world.
Herbie Hancock was born on April 12, 1940 in Chicago. He received a classical music education. He started taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old, and when he was 11, Herbie performed the 5th Mozart's Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His love of classical music does not prevent Herbie to listen to jazz gladly during his school years. His first idols were Oscar Peterson and George Shearing. Later, Herbie started listening to Bill Evans, Gil Evans Orchestra, Wynton Kelly, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. By the early 60's, his love of jazz took up, and Herbie finally decided to become a jazz musician. At that time, the young pianist was playing with Donald Byrd, Coleman Hawkins, Oliver Nelson and other well-known jazz musicians. Hancock wrote his first album as a leader in 1962. «Takin 'Off» disc, published by Blue Note label, demonstrated a fully formed pianist (Herbie was only 22), and a great composer to the jazz world. The material recorded on the disc was remarkable for stylistic diversity and originality, and included the elements of the gospel music in the famous «Watermelon Man» (which was destined to become one of the most frequently performed jazz standards), R'n'B mood «Driftin'», dramatic «The Maze» soft and lyrical «Alone and I».
After the release of debut album, Herbie Hancock's career developed rapidly. In 1963, Herbie becomes a participant of the second "classical quintet" of Miles Davis (Davis, Shorter, Hancock, Carter, Williams), the music of which largely determined the "face" of the acoustic jazz for decades to come. The pianist spent 5 years in Davis’ Quintet and recorded 5 albums, each of which is a classics of jazz. While working in the Quintet, Herbie continued to record albums as a leader. «Empyrean Isles» and «Maiden Voyage» discs (also published by Blue Note) have become one of the most important jazz records of the 60s’.
Herbie Henokok also participated in the Davis’ first experiments with fusion. At that time, Herbie switched to Fender Rhodes electric piano (according to the advice of Miles), which can be heard in the Davis’ key fusion albums («Miles in the Sky», «Filles de Kilimanjaro», «In a Silent Way», «Bitches Brew» and «A Tribute to Jack Johnson»).
The first solo records after Hancock left the Blue Note label and signed a contract with Warner Bros have also been designed in the style of funk fusion. These albums were not a success, and this made Herbie to rethink the musical direction in which he will move on. In 1973 (already on Columbia label), a legendary «Head Hunters» disc was issued, which has become a cornerstone in the history of jazz-funk. Particularly innovative was the game of the rhythm section, which included the bassist Paul Jackson and the drummer Harvey Mason. Jackson and Mason provided the famous «Chameleon» and a new funky arrangement of «Watermelon Man» with a stunning rhythm. At that time, Herbie started using analog synthesizers, which still play an important role in his music.
In the second half of the 70s’, Herbie Hancock also played acoustic music with Freddie Hubbard and former colleagues in the Miles Davis quintet in the lineup called the V.S.O.P. Herbie still continues experimenting with different musical genres. Acoustic jazz, funk, electronic music, pop, R'n'B - all this can be heard in his albums.
Herbie Hancock’s «River: The Joni Letters» disc published in 2007, was the second in the history of jazz album which won a Grammy Award in the most prestigious category, «Album of the Year». Hancock’s most recent disc, «The Imagine Project», was published in 2010. According to the jazzman, this record is the hardest for his long career. The musician invited a lot of guest artists, and worked on the album in the studios in the United States, India, Britain, France, Israel and Brazil. "The record of each song was akin to recording an entire album, says Herbie Hancock. For each track, it was necessary to refurbish the studio completely. I did not do this before, but I like that on this record is different from the previous discs. Everything corresponds to the spirit of the time. We have collected so different songs that you should not necessarily buy the whole album, you can buy individual tracks and compile them at your discretion."