Hancock, Herbie [Herbert Jeffrey]
- Bill Dobbins
(b Chicago, April 12, 1940). American jazz pianist, electric keyboard player and composer. He was born into a musical family, and began studying the piano at the age of seven. Four years later he performed the first movement of a Mozart concerto with the Chicago SO in a young people’s concert. By the time he graduated from Grinnell College in 1960, he was already working in Chicago jazz clubs with Coleman Hawkins and the trumpeter Donald Byrd invited him to join his quintet and move to New York, where, during Hancock’s first recording session with the group, Blue Note was sufficiently impressed to offer him his first date as a leader, in May 1962. The resulting album, Takin’ off, drew considerable public attention through an original tune with a strong gospel influence: Watermelon Man.
In May 1963 Hancock joined Miles Davis’s quintet. His piano style had by that time evolved into a highly personal blend of blues and bop with colourful harmony and exquisite tone. While working with Ron Carter and Tony Williams, Hancock helped revolutionize traditional jazz concepts of the rhythm section and its relation to the soloists, and established a musical rapport with an extraordinary degree of freedom and interaction. During his five years with the quintet Hancock also led his own groups, composed several tunes which have become jazz standards, including ...