Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Herbie Hancock - Takin' Off

Herbie Hancock's debut as a leader, Takin' Off, revealed a composer and pianist able to balance sophistication and accessibility, somewhat in the vein of Blue Note's prototype hard bopper Horace Silver. Yet while Hancock could be just as funky and blues-rooted as Silver, their overall styles diverged in several ways: Hancock was lighter and more cerebral, a bit more adventurous in his harmonies, and more apt to break his solos out of a groove (instead of using them to create one). So even if, in retrospect, Takin' Off is among Hancock's most conventional albums, it shows a young stylist already strikingly mature for his age, and one who can interpret established forms with spirit and imagination. Case in point: the simple, catchy "Watermelon Man," which became a Hancock signature tune and a jazz standard in the wake of a hit cover by Latin jazz star Mongo Santamaria. Hancock's original version is classic Blue Note hard bop : spare, funky piano riffing and tight, focused solo statements. The other compositions are memorable and well-constructed too (if not quite hit material) ; all have their moments, but particular highlights include the ruminative ballad "Alone and I," the minor-key "The Maze" (which features a little bit of free improvisation in the rhythm section), and the bluesy "Empty Pockets." The backing group includes then up-and-coming trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. All in all, Takin' Off is an exceptional first effort, laying the groundwork for Hancock to begin pushing the boundaries of hard bop on his next several records.
Steve Huey

Source :

Herbie Hancock
Takin' Off


1 Watermelon Man  7:09
2 Three Bags Full  5:27
3 Empty Pockets  6:09
4 The Maze  6:45
5 Driftin'  6:58
6 Alone and I  6:25
7 Watermelon Man [alt. take]  6:33
8 Three Bags Full [alt. take]  5:31
9 Empty Pockets [alt. take]  6:27

All Compositions by Herbie Hancock


Freddie Hubbard - tp
Dexter Gordon - ts
Herbie Hancock - p
Butch Warren - b
Billy Higgins - dr

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey ; May 28, 1962


John Pickworth said...

Many thanks !

rowland said...

Thanks very much.

AmyBRAINS said...

Thanks very much, Melanchthon.

AmyBRAINS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
furnguy said...

thanks. good music for a very snowy day.

ProfessorCalculus said...

Thanks again.

mrG said...

you have this tremendous knack for filling in the glaring gaps in my education :) thank you so much for these Hancock posts; somehow, I'd been so dazzled by the Miles Machine in those days, I had completely ignored these gems!

jazzcat1228 said...

One of Herbie's great Blue Note Sessions. Thank you for the upgrade, Mel!

Melanchthon said...

Doug said...

Super.Thanks a big bunch.

Leon said...

Maravilloso MELANCHTHON.Gracias

deGallo said...

Thank you.

kristophermc28 said...

Thanks again Mel. I've got this one as some weirdo all one track thing in APE format. This will replace it.

Crate Diggers United said...

Thank you!

Brush&Stick said...

Thanks so much for the alternate takes!

Kovina Kris said...

Thank you for the upgrade on this one Mel!