Composer: Herbie Hancock


Occupation: songwriter, pianist

Education: Hyde Park High School, Grinnell College

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois

Marital Status: Married to Gudrun (Gigi) Mexines (since August 31, 1968)

Birth Date: April 12, 1940

Death Date: Still alive

Status & Notes

Note One:
Background Herbert Jeffrey Hancock, better known as Herbie Hancock, was born in Chicago on April 12, 1940. He started taking piano when he was seven and was soon found to be a child piano prodigy; at age 11 he performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He became interested in Jazz during high school and was initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. His parents, Winnie and Wayman Hancock, were music enthusiasts; they were a secretary and a grocery clerk, and although they had no professional experience in music, they were very supportive. Herbie attended Grinnell College and completed a double-major in music and electrical engineering. He decided to pursue music, and at age 20 moved to New York and joined with the trumpeter David Byrd. He was introduced to Blue note records, and recorded his debut album, Takin’ Off, in 1962. Herbie was invited to join Miles Davis, and he played with his group for several years. Davis was a major influence on Herbie’s music, and while working with him, Herbie developed an interest in funk. In future years, Herbie formed his own band, The Headhunters, and pioneered a music style that would later be known as fusion.

Status One:
July 12, 2013 Performing a special duo show with my bro Chick Corea in Italy today to celebrate 40 musical years of friendship! :)

Note two:
Composition The song Cantaloupe Island, from the album Empyrean Isles, was recorded in Chicago in 1964 while Herbie was playing with Miles Davis’ Quintet. The original performers for the recording are Herbie Hancock (Piano), Freddie Hubbard (cornet), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums). In this piece of music I enjoy the smooth jazzy sound of the trumpet, and the slurs and bends used. They give the piece character and make it interesting to the audience. The constant drum beat keeps the song moving forward and gives it a feeling of steadiness. I enjoy listening to the groovy rhythm of the bass; it creates an interesting foundation for the piece and an underlying tone. My favorite part of this song is definitely the piano solo. It’s exciting and complements the piece nicely; the short notes and quick runs give the piece a stronger feeling of movement, like it has gone from walking casually to dancing down the street. The solo also creates a break from the trumpet in the middle of the song, creating a change in the tone of the piece. When the trumpet enters again it creates a surprise before the song slowly fades until the end. I found this piece very enjoyable and a good example of Herbie Hancock’s talent.

Status Two:
July 31, 2013 I will be performing on Friday, August 30th with James Genus, Vinnie Colaiuta and Lionel Loueke in the Curacao North Sea Jazz festival! What a great way to end the summer!

Note Three:
Fusion Jazz fusion, also called jazz-rock, came into being in the late 1960s. It is a blending of traditional jazz music with the more electric sound common to rock and funk. The term fusion has evolved to also include a merging of jazz with other types of music such as rhythm and blues. It came into being as a response to the growing popularity of pop and rock groups; fusion was a way to bridge the gap between these new genres, while still keeping some of the traditional jazz styles. Roots of this subgenre can be found in the music of Miles Davis and Tony Williams in the 1960s, who are regarded as the most influential musicians of the movement. Another new addition to jazz fusion was the use of electric piano, electric guitar, and synthesizers. The electric base replaced the stand-up base, and many other electric components were also introduced. These new additions were used particularly by Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Jazz fusion was a bridge from the era of traditional jazz music, to that of a more “electrified” sound which influenced many different types of music. Jazz fusion is still alive today and is an ever growing and changing genre.

Status Three:
Oct 11, 2013 Performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra today!! So excited!