Eric Wendell looks beyond the successes and failures of jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock to explore his musical design within the jazz community and mainstream pop culture. Wendell explores how Hancock’s efforts have established new jazz standards while fostering a cross-genre continuity among modern jazz practitioners.
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock gets a respectful analysis from musician and writer Wendell (Patti Smith), who dissects the illustrious career of the constantly evolving contemporary legend. Wendell's measured narrative follows Hancock from his performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 12 in 1952, through his first performances with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins in 1960, to his string of adventurous Blue Note albums. Hancock dazzled as part of Miles Davis's second great quintet on classics such as "My Funny Valentine," "Miles Smiles," and "In a Silent Way." With his own group of musicians, Hancock recorded such gems as "Empyrean Isles," "Speak like a Child," and "Maiden Voyage." The pianist's MTV videos and Oscar win for his 1986 score of the movie Round Midnight brought him to the attention of the masses, but critics blasted him as a sellout for his series of tame funk-electronic fusion albums from the '70s to the '90s. This is an excellent overview of a successful musical maverick who made a career out of finding new ways of breaking the rules.