Herbie Hancock booking
Herbie Hancock began playing piano at his home in Chicago when he was seven years old. He gave
his first public performance two years later. In high school, he picked up an ear for jazz.
Herbert ‘Herbie’ Jeffrey Hancock was born on 12 April 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, and was given
classical music training at home. He started playing the piano at the age of seven and his talents were
recognised from a young age. After he graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa, he moved to New
York City and, at age 20, joined with trumpeter Donald Byrd. Byrd introduced him to Blue Note
Records executives, and Hancock recorded his first solo album in 1963. Soon, Hancock won the
attention of the legendary Miles Davis, who invited Hancock to join his new group. While working with
Miles, Hancock developed an interest in funk.
Hancock then decided to form his own band, The Headhunters. He began to pioneer what would later
be called fusion, a mixture of funk and rock with jazz. ‘Headhunters’ (1973) was the first album on
which Hancock used a synthesizer, and went on to become the largest-selling jazz album in history.
After a few years, Hancock returned to his roots as an acoustic pianist, with the V.S.O.P. Quintet, a
recreation of Miles’ band (without Miles). In 1983, Hancock released ‘Future Shock’, which was a
pioneering electronic work, but also a hit on both R&B and dance charts. The single ‘Rock It’ won the
Grammy for best R&B Instrumental, and the album went gold. Hancock released ‘Dis is Da Drum’ in
1994, an album based on West African rhythms.
In 1997, Hancock released ’1+1′, a duet session with saxophonist, Wayne Shorter. The following year,
he reunited with his old Headhunter bandmates, to record an album, ‘Return of the Headhunters’, and
for a series of summer concerts. In 2007, Hancock, a longtime associate and friend of Joni Mitchell,
released an album, ‘River: The Joni Letters’, that paid tribute to her work. Norah Jones and Tina
Turner were among the stars to record vocals on the album. Mitchell herself also made an
The album was released in September of that year, simultaneously with the release of Mitchell’s album
‘Shine’. ‘River’ was nominated for and won the 2008 Album of the Year Grammy Award, only the
second jazz album ever to receive either honour. The album also won a Grammy for Best
Contemporary Jazz Album, and the song ‘Both Sides Now’ was nominated for Best Instrumental Jazz
Solo. In 2010, Hancock released ‘Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project’, which was critically
acclaimed and won the Best Pop Collaboration and Best Improvised Jazz Solo Grammys at the 2011
award ceremony. It features several fellow musicians including Seal, Pink, Jeff Beck, Dave Matthews
and Chaka Khan.
As well as music, Hancock maintains a thriving career outside of the recording studio as Creative
Chair for Jazz at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is also chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute
of Jazz, which is an international organisation devoted to the development of the genre. Hancock also
founded the International Committee of Artists for Peace. In July 2011, Hancock was named an
honorary UNESCO goodwill ambassador due to his contributions to the promotion of peace through
dialogue, culture and music.
On 12 April 2012, his 72nd birthday, it was announced that Hancock has signed a deal with the Viking
Press to write his memoirs, which are expected in 2014. During a telephone call from Shanghai where
he is on tour, Hancock said: “I am hoping this book will not only appeal to jazz fans.”
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