This disc is a bit unusual in a few ways. Vibraphonist Dave Pike sticks here exclusively to the marimba, while pianist Herbie Hancock is heard throughout on organ, an instrument he rarely played again. The band also includes two trumpeters (most notably Clark Terry who has a few short solos) and a rhythm section with guitarist Billy Butler. Most of the music consists of obscurities and is open to the influences of the boogaloo and pop rhythms of the era; highlights include Hancock's "Blind Man, Blind Man," "Sunny" and "Devilette." An interesting effort.
Mirroring his onetime boss and mentor Miles Davis' own protean output, Herbie Hancock has explored hard bop, soul-jazz, fusion, funk-rock, soundtracks, hip-hop-inflected pop ("Rockit"), and many permutations in between. His early work for Blue Note, though, offers the best entrée for newcomers. Compiled from five of his albums for the label and covering a period from 1962-1968, this fine sampler includes highlights from his debut, Takin' Off ("Watermelon Man"), the classic Maiden Voyage (the title track and "Dolphin Dance"), and the early electric album Speak Like a Child (the title track and "Riot"). Add to this more indelible cuts like "Cantaloupe Island" and "One Finger Snap," not to mention the presence of numerous '60s jazz luminaries (Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Hank Mobley, Billy Higgins, et al.), and you have perfect way to get a taste of some of the best modern jazz committed to wax.
On first glance this record would not seem to have much promise from a jazz standpoint. Herbie Hancock performs a set of tunes which include numbers from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Sade, Paul Simon, Prince, the Beatles ("Norwegian Wood") and Kurt Cobain. However by adding vamps, reharmonizing the chord structures, sometimes quickly discarding the melodies and utilizing an all-star band, Hancock was able to transform the potentially unrewarding music into creative jazz. Hancock, who sticks to acoustic piano, shows that he is still in prime form, taking quite a few fiery solos.
"Possibilities" is an intimate documentary about Herbie Hancock and his in-studio collaborations with a dozen formidable pop recording artists, collaborations that explore the unexpected, like jazz improvisations. The film is also about how Herbie's unique world view shapes a creative environment that encourages artists to step outside the velvet prison of easy expectations. "The hip stuff," Herbie tells Trey Anastasio, in a scene from the film, "is outside the comfort zone." "Possibilities" follows Herbie over a year and a half collaborating with musical icons Carlos Santana, Sting, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox and Paul Simon, young superstars Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Trey Anastasio and Jonny Lang and newcomers Joss Stone, Raul Midon, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. The film also puts Herbie's latest work in the context of his extraordinary musical career, and includes rarely seen archival footage of Herbie with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1962; Herbie leading his Headhunters.
Every single tune on this album from the haunting "Maiden Voyage" to the gentle, swinging "Dolphin Dance" has found its way into the standard jazz repertoire. Herbie Hancock fashioned a modern jazz milestone with extraordinary compositions, interplay and solos. Analogue Productions' Blue Note and Nat "King" Cole Reissues WIN A Positive Feedback 2010 Brutus Award!