Miles Davis was probably the greatest trend-setting artist I have ever seen. Every time it seems that Miles Davis changed his musical direction, he ended up literally creating, new genres of music. And in the course of doing so, each time he expanded the overall audience for his music. Of all the "students" of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock was perhaps the best learner. Over the years Herbie Hancock has gone off into some radical musical directions as well. And each time he has done this successfully and at the same time expanded the overall audience for his music.
Doing an album with the likes of: John Mayer, Santana, Angilique Kidjo, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Sting, Johnny Lang, Joss Stone, Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, Raul Midon, Stevie Wonder, and Trey Anastasio on the surface sounds like a mistake for Herbie Hancock, doesn't it? Seems like Herbie might get "lost in the sauce", doesn't it?
Well it isn't, this is in fact a BOLD move, and it works beautifully!!!
This album is truly a great listening experience. True this is not a FUNK album (like "Headhunters" was); it wasn't intended to be one. Nor is it a Jazz album (like Maiden Voyage" was), nor is it what it was intended to be. It's not even a wild fusion of Hip Hop/Jazz/Electronica (like "Rockit" was). What Herbie Hancock has done here is to create a Pop music masterpiece and in doing so will probably create millions of brand new Herbie Hancock fans. And personally I think that is a great thing.
The album itself is a pop music masterpiece. It is an album strictly for "grown folks", with a similar vibe to the CD by Louise Perryman called "Whisper My Name" that we have been featuring here on Soul-Patrol. And that seems to be what the intent was right from the start. What he has done was to bring in great talent, and allow them to do their own thing, under his direction. There is no attempt here to make the artists sound like Herbie or make them re-do his songs from the past. In that sense it's more like a compilation album of songs that have a similar vibe, done by a wide range of different artists. So to me it's more like the type of album that Quincy Jones was doing 15 years ago. What will happen is that an audience who wouldn't normally buy an album by Herbie Hancock, but who will buy his next album, will embrace this album. And to me that is really what this is all about from a musical perspective. It's more about finding a new audience for jazz itself and helping to correct this whole tragedy called "smooth jazz" in the long run.
Ever since the death of Miles Davis, jazz music has been dying a slow and painful death. If you doubt me, just listen to your local "smooth-jazz" radio station for about a ˝ hour to learn the specifics. The creation of millions of brand new Herbie Hancock fans can only be a good thing for the future of Jazz music. These are the people who are going to buy the next Herbie Hancock album. And they are going to buy the next Herbie Hancock album, because they are going to buy millions of copies of this one. And they are going to buy all of those albums, because this album is a masterpiece. I can't help but think that Miles Davis is looking down (or perhaps up…lol) at this and smiling…