Track Selection 1: King Cobra (Hancock)
Track Selection 2: Tribute to Someone (Hancock)
Donald Byrd (t) Grachan Moncur III (trb) Hank Mobley (ts) Herbie Hancock (p) Grant Green (g) Chuck Israels (b) Tony Williams (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 19, 1963
Hancock Discography: Takin’ Off (1963); My Point of View (1963); Inventions and Dimensions (1963);Empyrean Isles (1964); Maiden Voyage (1965) Speak Like a Child (1968); The Prisoner (1969). From the watershed of 1970, in the next forty years Hancock cut a zigzag path between almost every development in electronic jazz fusion and funk, culminating in 2010 in The Imagine Project, which I had the misfortune to see performed live at the Nice Jazz Festival the other year.
The kick-off with Rockit was fun, but I could endure only a couple of minutes of John Lennon’s Imagine before I was forced to make an excuse and leave. In an exclusive LJC Poll (which I just made up) the alternative ” a Poke in The Eye with a Sharp Stick” was preferred over listening to Herbie’s rendition of the utopian anthem by eleven out of ten modern jazz fans who expressed a preference. Not even close-run.
Meanwhile back in the heady days of 1963, a young pianist Herbert Hancock was making a name for himself, and soon as part of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, helped redefine the relationship between the rhythm section and the front line – and so the transition to post-bop.
Hot on the heels of his debut album Takin’ Off Hancock piled on the punishment with another must-have recording, My Point of View. He assembled an astonishing septet for the sessions – Byrd,Mobley and Grachan Moncur III gave him three brass voices to play with, the contrasting luminous flow of Grant Green, with free-swinging Anthony Williams and Chuck Israels at the anchor. On top of that you get Herb: if music is food for the soul, it’s celebrity come dine with me, under Master Chef Hancock.
The album’s promoted feature track Blind Man, Blind Man is a Watermelon Man shoe-in, which can be overlooked if you prefer, or enjoyed for itself if you like. I prefer the more adventurous and slightly more challenging King Cobra and Tribute to Someone. Not that I am in using the term “challenging” in the sense embraced by free jazz apostles out there, champions of unstructured cacophony, Post-Postbop, but in stretching the modern jazz genre towards greater freedom in improvisation, to include the unexpected.
Vinyl: BST 84126 , Van Gelder Stereo master, NY labels and Ear, a healthy 174 gm
Whilst a preference for mono is on record, with so much happening musically, Stereo here is a very enjoyable experience. There, I’ve said it. Not that there was any option as Hancock’s 60’s output is much sought after, appealing both to the MJ and the DJ tendency. You get what you can.
I was grateful to add Point of View to my collection, via Ebay earlier last year. They are hard to find. I was
robbed second-placed on the auction of a nice original copy of Maiden Voyage last week, sold by a British seller. My very very generous bid was trumped by the cursed “we don’t care what it costs, our customers will pay” Disk Union buyers from Japan. Small consolation but I doubled the price they hoped to pay, over the third place bidder. After postage and customs duty, that will be a lot.
What I was reminded of was that TokyoJazzCollector’s budget does not look like any ordinary collectors, or not at least like mine. All competition is fair, the seller deserves the best price he can realise, but it is kind of depressing. Especially if it goes on and sensibly we can never win. It’s in circumstances like this you turn to a song, perhaps one which sets out the possibility for a better future…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one….