HERBIE HANCOCK Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 12, 1940. He was virtually born with a piano in his hands. It was obvious that Herbie’s talent would take him places when, at the age of seven he began studying classical piano and four years later was performing Mozart with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It wasn’t until he entered Hyde Park High School that he began playing jazz. He was inspired to form his own jazz ensemble after listening to the music of pianists Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson. After high school, Herbie went to Grinnell College to study electrical enigineering. He ended up double majoring in electrical engineering and music. This degree aided Hancock in the early 1970’s when he began experimenting with electronic keyboards and synthesizers.


After graduation, Hancock returned to Chicago and began playing in local jazz clubs with Coleman Hawkins. It was at this time that Hancock met Donald Byrd, who invited Hancock to move to New York and play with his quintet.


On May 28,1965 Hancock landed his first record deal with Blue Note, and put out an album entitled “Takin’ Off"(after which this webpage is named). Hancock’s unique mixture of gospel, blues, and bebop caught people’s attention, and made “Watermelon Man” Hancock’s first hit. This album introduced him to Francis Wolf, Alfred Lion, and most importantly Miles Davis. A year later Hancock recorded “Inventions and Dimensions,” which emphasized a more harmonic piano style than on his previous album. Eager to record with the legendary Miles Davis, the next two albums Hancock recorded were with Davis’ quintet which also included saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer tony Williams. “Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I hadn’t heard anybody yet who had come after that time,” Davis remembers. Hancock was also composing original pieces at this time which included “Maiden Voyage,""Dolphin Dance,""The Sorcerer,"and “Riot.” These songs marked Hancock’s move from an emphasis on rhythmic and harmonic execution to a closer inspection of mood and tone. Along with this change in musical approach, Hancock also took a break from producing records and composed the score for Antonioni’s “Blow Up” in 1966 and then for Bill Cosby’s television show “Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert,” three years later. Hancock then returned to record a final session with Miles Davis on the album “Miles in the Sky” which introduced Hancock to the electric keyboard. Herbie then began to record more and more with electric keyboards and synthesizers. This new sound was coined “Fusion” and led Hancock onto commercial success.