Herbie Hancock will always be one of the most revered and controversial figures in jazz, just as his employer/mentor Miles Davis was when he was alive. Unlike Davis, who pressed ahead relentlessly and never looked back until near the very end, Hancock has cut a zig-zagging forward path, shuttling between almost every development in electronic and acoustic jazz and R&B over the last third of the 20th century. Though grounded in Bill Evans and ableRead more to absorb blues, funk, gospel, and even modern classical influences, Hancock's piano and keyboard voices are entirely his own, with their own urbane harmonic and complex, earthy rhythmic signatures, and young pianists constantly cop his licks. Having studied engineering and professing to love gadgets and buttons, Hancock was perfectly suited for the electronic age; he was one of the earliest champions of the Rhodes electric piano and Hohner clavinet, and would field an ever-growing collection of synthesizers and computers on his electric dates. Yet his love for the grand piano never waned, and despite his peripatetic activities all around the musical map, his piano style continues to evolve into tougher, ever-more-complex forms. He is as much at home trading riffs with a smoking funk band as he is communing with a world-class post-bop rhythm section, and that drives purists on both sides of the fence up the wall. Read less
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