Herbie Hancock Future Shock (Columbia) Herbie HancockSound-System (Columbia), and Herbie Hancock Perfect Machine (Columbia)

Reissues

Herbie Hancock

Future Shock (Columbia)

Herbie Hancock

Sound-System (Columbia)

Herbie Hancock

Perfect Machine (Columbia)

An enormously gifted and creative musician, Herbie Hancock has brought off just about everything he's attempted in the numerous phases of his 40-year career. At the height of his popularity in the Seventies and Eighties, when he began these popular, and in some ways innovative, funk recordings for Columbia, Hancock was motivated to some extent by commercial ambitions. Nevertheless, the results are impressive. The liner notes for this trio of like-minded LPs, released 1983, 1984, and 1989 respectively, contain an interview with Hancock's co-producer Bill Laswell, and when asked how enthusiastic the jazz pianist was about these sessions, the studio visionary sums up all three recordings succinctly: "I know [Future Shock] was over his head [technologically] and that he didn't know what we were doing. With the initial success of the single ["Rockit"], then he became obviously attracted to his own success. And then Sound System sort of happened quickly, bringing in a lot of people. He was much more involved in it. I think the last record [Perfect Machine] was less involved -- it involved something a bit more technical." Laswell, it seems, was more into these techno-R&B albums than Hancock, who was headed in this direction after leaving Miles Davis, and the bassist's heavy interest in engineering and technology are readily apparent. Produced with state-of-the-art electronic instruments and recording gear, these three albums became quite influential, and the unusual textures and tight, hard-driving rhythm section work are impressive. Solo instrumental work is in short supply, although Wayne Shorter's work on "Kara Bali" is a Sound-System high point, with Dwight Jackson and Bernard Fowler contributing laudable vocals. By and large, the success of these albums stems from a collective effort. It's no surprise that the best of them, Sound-System, is the one Hancock worked on the most. (Herbie Hancock plays the One World Theatre May 26 & 27.)

(Future Shock) ****

(Sound-System) ****

(Perfect Machine) ****

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