So today is the birthday of Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, the coolest cat in the universe and my favorite jazz musician.
Herbie was sought out by Miles Davis to take the piano spot in his second great quintet starting in 1963 when Hancock was only twenty-three. (But that’s nothing; Tony Williams the drummer was seventeen!) Along with bassist Ron Carter, this trio became what I believe was the finest rhythm section in all of jazz. Oh yeah, I said it.
Even while recording and performing with Miles for the next decade or so, Herbie was already making records of his own as a bandleader and composer. Classically trained, Hancock’s style is melodic and persuasive. His compositions also frequently cross over into funk, soul and pop arenas as they are some of the most accessible of all jazz music–in a good way. He’s one of the prime movers of post-bop jazz, i.e., fusion. If awards are your thing, Herbie’s racked up more grammys than God. Or even Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. (Herbie’s fourteen is one more than Michael got.)
I just love Herbie’s creativity, his joy in music. For people who don’t think they can “get” jazz, I’m convinced he’s the guy to try. Like I said, accessible in a good way. Some day I will do my definitive Herbie Hancock post so look out for that.
T of V ecstatically wishes Mr. Herbie Hancock a beautiful birthday. He’s turning seventy-four today, and still producing great albums year after year. If you don’t know his work, please listen to some today.