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Herbie's World

What does Herbie Hancock think of his own work? His take may surprise you.

On The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions:

"I had no idea what any of this stuff would be," Hancock says, of the lasting value of the Blue Note era music. "You just do it because that's what you do."

On the sextet and the album Sextant:

"That was pretty heavy music. The records were probably the lightest performances of those pieces because we did the records before we went on tour. The pieces haven't been developed the way they do when you play them night after night. Over time, the stuff really got spacy [laughs]. I saw people in the audience that walked out of the room. That's why I broke up that band, eventually. It got to the point where I wasn't having fun anymore. I think, as far as I was concerned, I had gone as far as I could in that direction at that time."

On Thrust:

"The highlight of that album is the work Mike Clark did on the song 'Actual Proof.' I thought that was amazing. It's really set up to be a showcase for drums in a way. We chose to play even the improvisation sections using the same figures and forms, with all the stops and the starts and the other things, which makes it a lot more exciting, but it made it a lot more difficult to learn."

On reuniting with the Headhunters:

"It was rough going into it. Many of us felt fear, trepidation, because we knew the kind of reputation we had back then and what we wanted to develop now. Not just in terms of reputation, but the thing that makes the reputation is what happens on the stage. There's a lot to meld into making the kind of highly oiled machine that we had 25 years ago. But we got it. We finally got it. Now we play shows and we kill the audiences [laughs]."

On Gershwin's World:

"Gershwin's World, how I treated those tunes is much different than what I might have been able to do back in the early '60s. But if I hadn't been open enough through the years, kept my ears open to other genres of music, other styles, if I hadn't been with Miles Davis, not just Miles, but all of those guys in that band that worked really hard at being able to reshape music, to be able to see music from several facets at the same time, I wouldn't be able to make the kind of choices I made on Gershwin's World."

On working with Joni Mitchell:

"What she did was amazing. I never knew she could sing a straight-ahead standard like that, with such a complete and solid sense of jazz. She has all the jazz phrasing and feeling, the complete jazz sound. She doesn't sound like someone that was just dabbling in it. It sounds like she was a jazz singer and that's the only thing she knows how to sing. Nobody ever knew her in this context at all. So that's going to be a big surprise to a lot of people.

 
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