1. Maiden Voyage
2. Cantaloupe Island
3. Wiggle Waggle
5. St. Louis Blues (with special guest Stevie Wonder)
6. Chan's Song (Never Said)
7. River (featuring Corinne Bailey Rae)
8. Don't Explain (featuring Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan)
9. All Apologies
10. Watermelon Man
11. Rockit (live)
12. River (live) (featuring Joni Mitchell)
Herbie Hancock has appeared in so many different musical guises that
it would take several albums to exemplify the rich variety of his work.
So this new CD's sub-title is unjustified, as this is hardly "the
definitive Herbie Hancock". Neverthless, the CD would make a useful
introduction to any newcomer wanting to explore Herbie's work - or,
at least, some aspects of it.
Certainly the first two tracks are an essential part of Hancock's output.
The title-track of the 1965 album Maiden Voyage exemplifies one of the
highspots of Herbie's career, although it would have been nice if this
compilation had also included Dolphin Dance. And the previous year's
Cantaloupe Island has become an undoubted jazz standard. Both tunes
illustrate Herbie's abilty to write catchy themes which are also ideal
for jazz improvisation. So, too, is Watermelon Man, although this is
not the original version but a 1973 recording from the album Head Hunters.
Another example of poor choice is evident in Rockit, which is taken
from a 2002 live album and is not the original recording, which entered
the pop charts in 1983, when it was rightly seen as a ground-breaking
piece of electronic jazz. I can't complain at the inclusion of St Louis
Blues (from the 1998 CD Gershwin's World), as it includes the wondrous
Stevie Wonder not only singing as melismatically as any opera singer
but also playing the harmonica with such jazz sentiment that at first
I thought it was Toots Thielemans.
Stevie Wonder is only one of several guest vocalists on the CD, which
also contains two interpretations of Joni Mitchell's River - first by
Corinne Bailey Rae and then by the composer herself in a previously-unreleased
"bonus track". I have already expressed my doubts about the
River album from which the first version is taken - and it seems excessive
to include this watery song in two versions, even if Joni's own recording
is new to the listener.
So this CD makes a passable introduction to Herbie Hancock, but it doesn't
represent the full eclectic breadth of his music.