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Herbie Hancock Celebrates 70th with New Album & Special Concert

Pianist releases The Imagine Project on June 22 and headlines special concert at Carnegie Hall on June 24

Jeff “Tain” Watts

On April 11, 2010, Herbie Hancock turned 70. To the average middle-aged jazz fan, that fact is sobering, in the same way a rock fan of a certain age finds it unfathomable that Paul McCartney will turn 70 in a few years. In Hancock’s case, he has seemed ageless, looking about the same at 60-something that he did at 30-something. Creatively, too, the pianist has never stopped looking forward with new ideas and new approaches. Somehow Hancock has uniquely been able to attain commercial success without sacrificing artistic integrity. His River album saluting the music of Joni Mitchell was a perfect example of the sort of “big idea” that he keeps pulling off.

Hancock’s latest big idea is The Imagine Project, in which he performs an assortment of iconic songs with universal messages of harmony and peace, with a variety of guests from around the globe. Hancock traveled all over to record the sessions and brought together artists from a wide range of genres. The distinctly multi-cultural album includes: Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A’ Changin'” featuring the Chieftains, Toumani Diabete, Lionel Loueke and Lisa Hannigan recorded in Ireland; “The Song Goes On” with Anoushka Shankar, Chaka Khan and Wayne Shorter, with noted Indian musicians, recorded in Mumbai, India; and “Tempo de Amour” with Ceu, recorded in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Among the album’s producing consultants was Larry Klein, perhaps best known for his work with Joni Mitchell. In addition, the recording sessions were shot for a documentary. The album will be released on June 22 on his own Hancock Records label.

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