Opening with the Head Hunters version of "Watermelon Man" and closing with the electro-embracing crossover hit, "Rockit," Mr. Funk is a semi-random skip across Hancock's Columbia recordings, and it technically spans 1973-1983 (at least going by release dates), rather than the 1972-1988 range printed on its cover.
Beyond category or idiom, audacious in its very idea, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter perform a little over an hour of spontaneous improvised duets for grand piano and soprano sax. That's all no synthesizers, no rhythm sections, just wistful, introspective, elevated musings between two erudite old friends that must have made the accountants at PolyGram reach for their Mylanta. Hancock's piano is long on complex harmonies of the most cerebral sort, occasionally breaking out into a few agitated passages of dissonance. His technique in great shape, Shorter responds with long-limbed melodies, darting responses to Hancock's lashings, and occasional painful outcries of emotion.
"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.
For ADAM'S APPLE Wayne Shorter returned to the simple quartet format for the last time in his solo career. This date from 1966 shows the saxophonist firmly between his modal style of the early '60s and his more experimental avant-garde period that was to come with albums like SCHIZOPHRENIA and SUPER NOVA. The effect of Shorter's membership in Miles Davis' legendary group is evident, as his improvisations here are more adventurous and his rhythmic drive more pointed and angular than previous efforts. Above all, this session gives us one last look at Shorter at his most unveiled.