"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.
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.
In the 1950s, Herbie Mann frequently shared the spotlight on record dates with other flutists. This V.S.O.P. LP, a reissue of a set originally for Mode and also out for awhile on Premier, matches Mann (who here also plays piccolo, clarinet and tenor) with Buddy Collette (switching between flute, clarinet, tenor and alto) in a quintet with pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Buddy Clark and drummer Mel Lewis. The results are generally pleasing, if somewhat lightweight, with such obscure tunes as "Here's Buddy," Rowles' "Pop Melody," "Here's Pete" and Mann's "Theme from 'Theme From'" alternating with three standards and Chico Hamilton's "Morning After."