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Herbie Hancock: The Essential Herbie Hancock

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No other artist in the last 45 years of jazz has remained on the cutting edge of the music like pianist and keyboardist Herbie Hancock: a musician with passion, an open mind and an awareness of history that constantly propels him forward into new sonic territory.

After listening to the first few songs on The Essential Herbie Hancock, you’ll understand this intimately. Both Hancock’s 1962 hit “Watermelon Man” and his 1964 gem “Cantaloupe Island,” which quietly made a strong contribution to hip-hop music in the 1990s (the group Us3 sampled Hancock’s track for their hit “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)”) are included in the collection. You’ll also hear 1965’s “Maiden Voyage,” another mainstay on jazz radio for decades now, and a powerful version of “‘Round Midnight” by Sonny Rollins where Hancock cleverly backs the saxophonist. Following these four monster recordings, the lineup for the next tune “Circle” is Hancock on keys, Miles Davis on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Tony Williams on drums and Ron Carter on bass. Together, they seem to be saying everything “My Funny Valentine” ever said only in a modern and more expressive way.

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