Herbie Hancock: Inventions and Dimensions (1963) Blue Note

Track Selection 1: Triangle  (not Succotash, everyone knows Succotash)

. . .

A dreamy floating extended improvisation, kick off the shoes and lie back, ten minutes required, beauty therapy for brains

Track Selection 2: A Jump Ahead

.  .  .

The best bop/swinging Hancock high energy, get those shoes back on and look busy in case the boss comes round.


Herbie Hancock, piano;  Paul Chambers, bass; Willie Bobo , drums,, timbales;  Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez, congas, bongos, finger cymbals, guiro; recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 30, 1963, released February 1964.

chihauhaucover_descargas_05 Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez (left)

Excuse for cute puppy shot, a Chihuahua, spelling optional, (right)



digitalred1963Its 1963, nothing “middle of the road” about Hancock’s third album for Blue Note, despite the cover with Herbie standing in it. (Do not try this at home)

Hancock is a percussive pianist and this album is a logical progression into rhythm – something which came to dominate his later work. Instead of another multifaceted album like My Point of View,  Hancock changed direction to experiment with an unusual mixture of Latin rhythms and textures with jazz harmonies and structures.

Thankfully the Latin element is not a flirtation with the bossa nova, but borrowing from Afro-Cuban, in a rhythm-intensive improvisational atmosphere where repetition is pitted against unexpected chords, harmonies, creating floating spontaneous melodies.

An Amazon amateur reviewer/ pianist offered this musicians-ear point of view:

There aren’t really any written tunes – “Mimosa” was a set of chord changes and the other tunes are completely improvised –  so sketches are built more off of fragments and ideas born in the studio. For example, one tune features the bass playing a pedal tone for four bars followed by Hancock’s improvisation in that key for sixteen bars. The music, while abstract, is oddly infectious through the rhythmic approach. In addition, Hancock was working with fairly “inside” musicians, especially Chambers, a first call bop musician. As a result, though free, this music is fairly conservative” –

Conservative by the standards of free jazz. Great! “Free minus”!

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4147

NY, Van Gelder, ear, no DG, mono. Just one small problem – according to Cohen the original is DG Side 1, this is no DG.At the end of 1963, records were  coming out of Plastylite  randomly with no DG, DG both sides, one side or the other. Change of press, change of stamper, additional batch of copies pressed, anything can happen. Depends whether you are  1st Pressing Fundamentalist. Where all other signs are right, I am not precious.


Collectors Corner

Source: West London pre-owned record shop, with a good number of excellent Polish delicatessen nearby. Though the condition was not perfect, its a rare item which I don’t think I have come across again “in the flesh” so I was more than happy, though my heart sank when I saw the writing on the cover “Jazz Club Library”: twenty or thirty borrowers, impecunious students who couldn’t afford to change the stylus on their portable record player. Or maybe it was Porsche-driving Beverley Hills alumni hepcats.

Also available reissued by United Artists I guess under a different title and alternate cover as “Succotash”. The cover is never going to compare with Herbie’s stand in the Middle of the Road.


What is a “succotash” anyway? Some kind of bean? Maybe it sounds like this…

.  .  .

If you have got this far, well done, I’ll play you out with Succotash.

18 thoughts on “Herbie Hancock: Inventions and Dimensions (1963) Blue Note

  1. I saw a review copy of ‘inventions and dimensions’ sell on ebay and it was a review copy and it had deep groove side 1 only…so in this case it seems that the dg side 1 was the first press. But in general, I think the only way to know a true first press is to find a review copy’s characteristics and match them to another vinyl.

    On another note, does anyone have any idea why my stereo liberties sound better than my NYC stereos?

  2. This copy sound pretty darn good! I was wondering: do you have a post on here detailing your setup? You seem to be getting minimal inner groove distortion on this record, and you said it wasn’t in great condition, so I’m wondering if you have one of those expensive micro-lie styli or something…?

    I love this record. It’s such a treat reading your brief reviews, you seem to know a lot about jazz in general. Are you a musician? What’s your history with the genre, if you don’t mind me asking?

    • The rips here are made on a Numark PT-01 USB turntable, a DJ-type portable. It does a decent enough job, but it is not from my listening system, which is unfriendly as regards outputs to a computer and located in the wrong place:

      I wrote a little mini-bio within these two pages, save me repeating myself here in the comment space.
      Should give you a context.

      Why “write”?

      The challenge is to find words that efffectively describe music, which is itself wordless. Some people just listen and don’t talk, or they talk a lot about musicians and lifestyles, but not actually the music. Thats fine. Then there’s a scale – many will just share “I like this” or ” I think this is great”, same thing, and stop there. Trouble is that doesn’t communicate a lot about why you like it. You might like hip hop, I might hate it, but if you can say what it is about it that makes you like it, we are beginning to create some communication that is potentially two way – a conversation.
      Somewhere further up the line is a search for words that describe what is going on in the music. Not technical musicspeak augmented fifths and stuff, I mean emotionally, why it is interesting and what is good about it, so you can decide for yourself if there is something there that might interest you too. That requires a shared vocabulary about music, and some context about where this music fits within a range of experiences.

      At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing words and arranging them on a page. Why is that so difficult? Ask any writer. Just about anybody can write a sentence, but not many people can write one worth reading. That is the difference that makes life interesting.

          • I also have a Dynavector cartridge (Karat 17d3). Overall, I am pleased with the sound, but I have experienced a great deal more issues with tracking than I would have expected (my previous cartridge is an Audio Technica OC-9 ML II that will almost literally track anything).

            Have you ever tested out your cartridge on the Hi Fi News (or any other) test record? How does it come out?

            • sorry I don’t have a test record. The Dynavector seems to suit the Origin Live arm, so I figure I will stick with the same manufacturer. Cartridges are very near impossible to “audition” – you can’t try it out and if you don’t like it take it back. One of those things where you have to have a great deal of trust.

  3. I just got this on silver disk last week and listened to it several times. I had never heard it and it’s not what I expected, but I like it very much. While checking it out it dawned on me that I had never heard Paul Chambers outside of a bop context–ever–he sounds great as always but I did wonder what a latin bassist would have sounded like in the same context.

  4. AHA! According to Fred Cohen’s book and according to Dottore’s Blue Note Illustrated, a genuine 1st pressing has the deep groove on Side 1. And believe it or not, but my copy has the deep groove on Side 1 😉

    I once emailed my label photos of 4147 to Dottore to complete his Blue Note Illustrated and those are the only ones I can share with y’all today, since I haven’t made cover- and trail off photos yet, but they will come soon. Click HERE for the label and “ear” shots.

    And last but not least I’d like to point out once again that Osvaldo Martinez’ nick name is incorrectly used on this Blue Note album. On the front- and back cover, it says Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez, but that’s WRONG! The correct spelling is: Osvaldo “Chihuahua” Martinez! We’ve been looking at a typo for decades…

    Allow me to prove my point right here, right now, since for the release of the Evil Silver Disk this typo was finally corrected; click HERE and compare the two!

    • A late 1963 release, and a deep groove die on one side, two years after they say they were phased out for new releases? You do suprise me. Methinks Mr Cohen has been smokin’ the stronger kind of ‘baccy. Still, I won’t argue, I am not a First Press Fetishist. Its an “original” (Blue Note) – our definition, pre 1966. But I might just sulk a while.

      • Oh well, I have plenty of later, but still pre-Liberty pressings myself and I, too, love ’em all. It’s just that when you have a copy that fits the description from the grandmasters, you just can’t help but brag about it 😉

        And hey, don’t forget that typo that I described in the comment above!

        • I just wanted to chime in by saying there is no evidence in existence that Plastylite Blue Notes either with or without deep grooves pressed after May 1961 are original pressings. From page 77 of Cohen’s book:

          “…it is clear that subtle alterations in its design in the early 1960s resulted in the gradual disappearance of the deep groove. After a certain point (May ’61), it can never truly be known whether similar pressings for the same record whose only difference is the presence or absence of a deep groove on one, both, or neither labels is actually the original first pressing. But since collectors have a natural bias for any detail that suggests a early or original issue, the presence of a deep-groove has been treated in this guide as an indication of an original, but ONLY an indication.”

          In fact, the case of the review copy of 4059 with no deep grooves on either side (http://jazzcollector.com/blue-note/original-undercurrent-dg-or-not-dg-that-is-the-question/#comments…Mattyman, YOU pointed this out!…?) is an indicator that quite the opposite is true, and it appears that Cohen and Cohn both go along with this. Of course, this review copy of 4059 isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that ALL first pressing Plastylites after May ’61 do not have deep grooves, however. For me, I’ll take either…shoot, I’ll even take a non-“P” New York USA label or an early Liberty label!

          One last thing: there’s a Blue Note connoisseur floating around the ‘net named Allan Songer, apparently out of L.A., who also claims that first pressing Platylites after May ’61 do not not have deep grooves (http://jazzcollector.com/blue-note/twelve-tips-to-collecting-blue-note/). I’ve tried to contact him about his information source to no avail, so I still take this matter with a grain of salt.

          • Hello Richard, I’m familiar with the description you just gave; the Alan Songer text has also once been pasted into one of the comments on jazzcollector.com after the whole deep groove debate on Kenny Drew’s Undercurrent began. So I, too, know about it, especially since I -later on- copied and pasted those same comments again when the same debated started. You caught me red handed 😉

            As said in the above: at times it’s just fun to brag a bit about it here on LJC if you have what seems to be a 1st pressing even though the going theory says otherwise. A tongue in cheek variation on the ‘my groove is deeper than yours’ 😀

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