|Birth name||Herbert Jeffrey Hancock|
|Born||(1940-04-12) April 12, 1940 (age 80)|
|Genres||Jazz, post-bop, modal jazz, fusion, jazz-funk, electro, classical|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, composer, DJ, bandleader, record producer, arranger, actor|
|Labels||Columbia, Blue Note, Warner Bros., Verve|
|Associated acts||Clark Terry, Miles Davis Quintet, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, the Headhunters, V.S.O.P., Jaco Pastorius, Joni Mitchell, Howard Jones|
|Spouse(s)||Gigi Hancock (née Meixner)
Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer, and actor.
Hancock started his career with Donald Byrd.
He is also the chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (known as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz until 2019).
Hancock was born in Chicago, the son of Winnie Belle (Griffin), a secretary, and Wayman Edward Hancock, a government meat inspector.
His parents named him after the singer and actor Herb Jeffries.
He attended Hyde Park High School.
Like many jazz pianists, Hancock started with a classical music education.
He studied from age seven, and his talent was recognized early.
Considered a child prodigy, he played the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. at a young people's concert on February 5, 1952, with the 26 in D Major, K. 537 (Coronation)Chicago Symphony Orchestra (led by CSO assistant conductor George Schick) at the age of 11.
Through his teens, Hancock never had a jazz teacher however he developed his ear and sense of harmony.
He was also influenced by records of the vocal group the Hi-Lo's.
In his words:
In 1960, he heard Chris Anderson play just once and begged him to accept him as a student.
Hancock often mentions Anderson as his harmonic guru.
During this time he also took courses at Roosevelt University (later graduating from Grinnell with degrees in electrical engineering and music).
Grinnell also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1972.
"Watermelon Man" (from Takin' Off) was to provide Mongo Santamaría with a hit single, but more importantly for Hancock, Takin' Off caught the attention of Miles Davis, who was at that time assembling a new band.
Hancock was introduced to Davis by the young drummer Tony Williams, a member of the new band.
Miles Davis Quintet (1963–68) and Blue Note Records (1962–69)
Hancock received considerable attention when, in May 1963, he joined Davis's Second Great Quintet.
Davis personally sought out Hancock, whom he saw as one of the most promising talents in jazz.
This quintet is often regarded as one of the finest jazz ensembles yet.
While in Davis's band, Hancock also found time to record dozens of sessions for the Blue Note label, both under his own name and as a sideman with other musicians such as Shorter, Williams, Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Rivers, Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Eric Dolphy.
Hancock also recorded several less-well-known but still critically acclaimed albums with larger ensembles – My Point of View (1963), Speak Like a Child (1968) and The Prisoner (1969) featured flugelhorn, alto flute and bass trombone.
1963's Inventions and Dimensions was an album of almost entirely improvised music, teaming Hancock with bassist Paul Chambers and two Latin percussionists, Willie Bobo and Osvaldo "Chihuahua" Martinez.
As well as feature film soundtracks, Hancock recorded a number of musical themes used on American television commercials for such then well known products as Pillsbury's Space Food Sticks, Standard Oil, Tab diet cola and Virginia Slims cigarettes.
Hancock liked it so much he wished to record it as a song but the ad agency would not let him.
He rewrote the harmony, tempo and tone and recorded the piece as the track "He Who Lives in Fear" from his The Prisoner album of 1969.
Davis had begun incorporating elements of rock and popular music into his recordings by the end of Hancock's tenure with the band.
Hancock adapted quickly to the new instruments, which proved to be important in his future artistic endeavors.
Under the pretext that he had returned late from a honeymoon in Brazil, Hancock was dismissed from Davis's band.
In the summer of 1968 Hancock formed his own sextet.
However, although Davis soon disbanded his quintet to search for a new sound, Hancock, despite his departure from the working band, continued to appear on Davis records for the next few years.
Fat Albert (1969) and Mwandishi era (1971-73)
Hancock left Blue Note in 1969, signing with Warner Bros. Records.
One of the jazzier songs on the record, the moody ballad "Tell Me a Bedtime Story", was later re-worked as a more electronic sounding song for the Quincy Jones album [[Sounds...and_Stuff_Like_That!
!|Sounds...and Stuff Like That!! ]]
Hancock became fascinated with electronic musical instruments.
Together with the profound influence of Davis's Bitches Brew (1970), this fascination culminated in a series of albums in which electronic instruments were coupled with acoustic instruments.
Hancock's first ventures into electronic music started with a sextet comprising Hancock, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart, and a trio of horn players: Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), and multireedist Bennie Maupin.
Patrick Gleeson was eventually added to the mix to play and program the synthesizers.
The sextet, later a septet with the addition of Gleeson, made three albums under Hancock's name: Mwandishi (1971), Crossings (1972) (both on Warner Bros. Records), and Sextant (1973) (released on Columbia Records); two more, Realization and Inside Out, were recorded under Henderson's name with essentially the same personnel.
The music exhibited strong improvisational aspect beyond the confines of jazz mainstream and showed influence from the electronic music of contemporary classical composers.
The first two, including Fat Albert Rotunda were made available on the 2-CD set Mwandishi: the Complete Warner Bros.
Recordings, released in 1994.
"Hornets" was later revised on the 2001 album Future2Future as "Virtual Hornets".
From Head Hunters (1973) to Secrets (1976)
See also: Head Hunters
The album Head Hunters (1973) was a hit, crossing over to pop audiences but criticized within his jazz audience.
Stephen Erlewine, in a retrospective summary for AllMusic, said, "Head Hunters still sounds fresh and vital three decades after its initial release, and its genre-bending proved vastly influential on not only jazz, but funk, soul, and hip-hop."
(A live album from a Japan performance, consisting of compositions from those first two Head Hunters releases was released in 1975 as Flood.)
This was almost as well received as its predecessor, if not attaining the same level of commercial success.
The Headhunters made another successful album called Survival of the Fittest in 1975 without Hancock, while Hancock himself started to make even more commercial albums, often featuring members of the band, but no longer billed as The Headhunters.
The Headhunters reunited with Hancock in 1998 for Return of the Headhunters, and a version of the band (featuring Jackson and Clark) continues to play and record.
In 1973, Hancock composed his soundtrack to the controversial film The Spook Who Sat by the Door.
Then in 1974, he composed the soundtrack to the first Death Wish film.
One of his memorable songs, "Joanna's Theme", was re-recorded in 1997 on his duet album with Shorter, 1+1.
These albums feature the members of the Headhunters band, but also a variety of other musicians in important roles.
From V.S.O.P. (1976) to Future Shock (1983)
In 1978, Hancock recorded a duet with Chick Corea, who had replaced him in the Davis band a decade earlier.
Hancock also released a solo acoustic piano album, The Piano (1979), which was released only in Japan.
(It was released in the US in 2004.)
VSOP: Live Under the Sky was a VSOP album remastered for the US in 2004 and included a second concert from the tour in July 1979.
Singing through a vocoder, he earned a British hit, "I Thought It Was You", although critics were unimpressed.
This led to more vocoder on his next album, Feets, Don't Fail Me Now (1979), which gave him another UK hit in "You Bet Your Love".
Hancock toured with Williams and Carter in 1981, recording Herbie Hancock Trio, a five-track album released only in Japan.
Hancock, Williams, and Carter toured internationally with Wynton Marsalis and his brother, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, in what was known as "VSOP II".
This quintet can be heard on Wynton Marsalis's debut album on Columbia (1981).
In 1984 VSOP II performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival as a sextet with Hancock, Williams, Carter, the Marsalis Brothers, and Bobby McFerrin.
It was the first mainstream single to feature scratching, and also featured an innovative animated music video, which was directed by Godley and Creme and showed several robot-like artworks by Jim Whiting.
The video was a hit on MTV and reached No.
8 in the UK.
The video won in five categories at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards.
This single ushered in a collaboration with noted bassist and producer Bill Laswell.
He also provided introductory and closing comments for the PBS rebroadcast in the United States of the BBC educational series from the mid-1980s, Rockschool (not to be confused with the most recent Gene Simmons' Rock School series).
In 1986 Hancock performed and acted in the film 'Round Midnight.
He also wrote the score/soundtrack, for which he won an Academy Award for Original Music Score.
His film work was prolific during the 1980s, and included the scores to A Soldier's Story (1984), Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986), Action Jackson (1988, with Michael Kamen), Colors (1988), and the Eddie Murphy comedy Harlem Nights (1989).
Often he would also write music for TV commercials.
"Maiden Voyage", in fact, started out as a cologne advertisement.
At the end of the Perfect Machine tour, Hancock decided to leave Columbia Records after a 15-plus-year relationship.
1990s to 2000
The album contained two live recordings and studio recording songs, with Roney playing Davis's part as trumpet player.
The album won a Grammy for best group album.
Hancock also toured with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Pat Metheny in 1990 on their Parallel Realities tour, which included a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1990, and scored the 1991 comedy film Livin' Large, which starred Terrence C. Carson.
The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African-American community, was heralded as "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.
1995's The New Standard found Hancock and an all-star band including John Scofield, DeJohnette and Michael Brecker, interpreting pop songs by Nirvana, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Prince, Peter Gabriel and others.
A 1997 duet album with Shorter, entitled 1+1, was successful; the song "Aung San Suu Kyi" winning the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition.
Hancock also achieved great success in 1998 with his album Gershwin's World, which featured readings of George and Ira Gershwin standards by Hancock and a plethora of guest stars, including Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Shorter.
2000 to 2009
Hancock later toured with the band, and released a concert DVD with a different lineup, which also included the "Rockit" music video.
Also in 2001 Hancock partnered with Brecker and Roy Hargrove to record a live concert album saluting Davis and John Coltrane, entitled Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall, recorded live in Toronto.
The threesome toured to support the album, and toured on-and-off through 2005.
The year 2005 saw the release of a duet album called Possibilities.
In 2006 Possibilities was nominated for Grammy Awards in two categories: "A Song for You" (featuring Aguilera) was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and "Gelo No Montanha" (featuring Trey Anastasio on guitar) was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Performance, although neither nomination resulted in an award.
Plus, during the summer of 2005, Hancock re-staffed the Headhunters and went on tour with them, including a performance at The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.
This lineup did not consist of any of the original Headhunters musicians.
The group included Marcus Miller, Carrington, Loueke and Mayer.
Hancock also served as the first artist in residence for Bonnaroo that summer.
This became Hancock's second major compilation of work since the 2002 Columbia-only The Herbie Hancock Box, which was released at first in a plastic 4 × 4 cube then re-released in 2004 in a long box set.
It is featured on Groban's CD Awake.
Hancock also recorded and improvised with guitarist Loueke on Loueke's 1996 debut album Virgin Forest, on the ObliqSound label, resulting in two improvisational tracks – "Le Réveil des agneaux (The Awakening of the Lambs)" and "La Poursuite du lion (The Lion's Pursuit)".
Hancock, a longtime associate and friend of Mitchell, released a 2007 album, River: The Joni Letters, that paid tribute to her work, with Norah Jones and Tina Turner adding vocals to the album, as did Corinne Bailey Rae.
Leonard Cohen contributed a spoken piece set to Hancock's piano.
Mitchell herself also made an appearance.
The album was released on September 25, 2007, simultaneously with the release of Mitchell's newest album at that time: Shine.
River won the 2008 Album of the Year Grammy Award.
The album also won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, and the song "Both Sides Now" was nominated for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo.
That was only the second time in history that a jazz album had both those Grammys.
The event raised $515,000 for Shriners Hospital.
Hancock was named as the Los Angeles Philharmonic's creative chair for jazz for 2010–12.
2010 to present
In June 2010, Hancock released The Imagine Project.
On June 5, 2010, he received an Alumni Award from his alma mater, Grinnell College.
On July 22, 2011, at a ceremony in Paris, he was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue.
In 2013 Hancock joined the University of California, Los Angeles faculty as a professor in the UCLA music department where he will teach jazz music.
He appeared on the album You're Dead by Flying Lotus, released in October 2014.
Hancock is the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.
Holders of the chair deliver a series of six lectures on poetry, "The Norton Lectures", poetry being "interpreted in the broadest sense, including all poetic expression in language, music, or fine arts."
Hancock's theme is "The Ethics of Jazz."
Hancock's next album is being produced by Terrace Martin, and will feature a broad variety of jazz and hip-hop artists including Wayne Shorter, Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Lionel Loueke, Zakir Hussein and Snoop Dogg.
On May 15, 2015, Hancock received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
On May 19, 2018, Hancock received an honorary degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Hancock has a 50-year-plus marriage to Gigi Hancock, who he married August 31, 1968.
Herbie and Gigi have a daughter, Jessica.
As part of Hancock's spiritual practice, he recites the Buddhist chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo each day.
Main article: Herbie Hancock discography
|1981||Concrete Cowboys||Gideon||Episode: "The Wind Bags"|
|1985||The New Mike Hammer||Himself||Episode: "Firestorm"|
|1986||Round Midnight||Eddie Wayne|
|1988||Branford Marsalis Steep||Himself|
|1995||Invisible Universe||Poetry reader (voice)||Video game|
|2014||Girl Meets World||Catfish Willie Slim||Episode: "Girl Meets Brother"|
|2016||River of Gold||Narrator||Documentary|
|2017||Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets||Defense Minister|
- 2000: DeJohnette, Hancock, Holland and Metheny – Live in Concert
- 2002: Herbie Hancock Trio: Hurricane! with Ron Carter and Billy Cobham
- 2002: The Jazz Channel Presents Herbie Hancock (BET on Jazz) with Cyro Baptista, Terri Lynne Carrington, Ira Coleman, Eli Degibri and Eddie Henderson (recorded in 2000)
- 2004: Herbie Hancock – Future2Future Live
- 2005: Herbie Hancock's Headhunters Watermelon Man (Live in Japan)
- 2006: Herbie Hancock – Possibilities with John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Joss Stone, and more
- 1986, Original Soundtrack, for Round Midnight
- 1984: Best R&B Instrumental Performance, for Rockit
- 1985: Best R&B Instrumental Performance, for Sound-System
- 1988: Best Instrumental Composition, for Call Sheet Blues
- 1995: Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group, for A Tribute to Miles
- 1997: Best Instrumental Composition, for Manhattan (Island of Lights and Love)
- 1999: Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s), for St. Louis Blues
- 1999: Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group, for Gershwin's World
- 2003: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group, for Directions in Music at Massey Hall
- 2003: Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, for My Ship
- 2005: Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, for Speak Like a Child
- 2008: Album of the Year, for River: The Joni Letters
- 2008: Best Contemporary Jazz Album, for River: The Joni Letters
- 2011: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, for A Change Is Gonna Come
- 2011: Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, for Imagine
- Keyboard Readers' Poll: Best Jazz Pianist (1987, 1988); Keyboardist (1983, 1987)
- Playboy Music Poll: Best Jazz Group (1985), Best Jazz Album Rockit (1985), Best Jazz Keyboards (1985, 1986), Best R&B Instrumentalist (1987), Best Jazz Instrumentalist (1988)
- MTV Awards (5), Best Concept Video, "Rockit", 1983–'84
- Gold Note Jazz Awards – New York Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, 1985
- French Award Officer of the Order of Arts & Letters, 1985
- BMI Film Music Award, Round Midnight, 1986
- Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music, 1986
- U.S. Radio Award, Best Original Music Scoring – Thom McAnn Shoes, 1986
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Best Score – 'Round Midnight, 1986
- BMI Film Music Award, Colors, 1989
- Miles Davis Award, Montreal International Jazz Festival, 1997
- Soul Train Music Award, Best Jazz Album – The New Standard, 1997
- VH1's 100 Greatest Videos, "Rockit" is 10th Greatest Video, 2001
- NEA Jazz Masters Award, 2004
- Downbeat Readers' Poll Hall of Fame, 2005
- Kennedy Center Honors, 2013
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2013
- Benjamin Franklin Medal (Royal Society of Arts), 2018
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbie Hancock.