After the phenomenal success of TAKIN' OFF, Herbie Hancock's second release for Blue Note was constructed in the mold of its predecessor. The tantalizing MY POINT OF VIEW offers many of the same early Hancock signature moments, but with an expanded palette that reflects the pianist's growing experience. A larger ensemble helped to broaden the range of this release as Blue Note regulars Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, and Grant Green add to Hancock's sonic textures. Also on board are the advanced trombonist Grachan Moncur III, Bill Evans' bassist Chuck Israels, and the young drum wonder Tony Williams.
On MY POINT OF VIEW, smooth-jazz multi-instrumentalist Najee offers up a solid set of groove-based easy-listening tunes. While guest vocalists appear on a few tracks, Najee's talent on the flute, alto saxophone, and soprano saxophone is such that the disc's instrumentals prove to be the highlights.
For his third album, Inventions and Dimensions, Herbie Hancock changed course dramatically. Instead of recording another multifaceted album like My Point of View, he explored a Latin-inflected variation of post-bop with a small quartet. Hancock is the main harmonic focus of the music – his three colleagues are bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Willie Bobo, and percussionist Osvaldo "Chihuahua" Martinez, who plays conga and bongo. It is true that the music is rhythm-intensive, but that doesn't mean it's dance music. Hancock has created an improvisational atmosphere where the rhythms are fluid and the chords, harmonies, and melodies are unexpected.
From the start of his solo recording career in 1962, when he was 22, Herbie Hancock was a very original pianist/composer. Strangely enough, despite the explorative nature of much of his music, Hancock was also quite accessible, recording the future hit "Watermelon Man" on his debut date. This six-CD set is a must for all jazz collectors who do not already own Hancock's Blue Note albums, for the box contains the complete contents of the pianist's albums Takin' Off, My Point of View, Inventions & Dimensions, Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage, Speak Like a Child, and The Prisoner.
Empyrean Isles is the best of Hancock's Blue Note albums and an outstanding example of modal jazz. But beyond that, it's simply one of the finest pure jazz albums ever made, right up there with Kind of Blue and Love Supreme.
A mini-retrospective of Herbie Hancock's early years as a jazz artist, this six-track CD touches on some of his best-known small-ensemble works from that period. ~ AllMusic