Thursday, August 15, 2013

Herbie Hancock--Chameleon (1974)

     In high school, many of my friends were in Jazz Band. I was never good enough to get in on my own, but used to go with them to festivals and contests, which if nothing else, broadened my palate of music. Through that, I have come, if not to love, than to certainly have a knowledge of, and appreciation of 70's era jazz. Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock were some of my favorites to this day. The only one of those three who attempted a broader pop audience was Hancock.
     Herbie was born in Chicago in 1940 and by his early 20's was beginning to catch the attention of some of the jazz greats, in particular trumpeter Miles Davis, who invited the young pianist to join what was to be known as the Second Great Quartet. Before leaving the band and forming his own in 1968, he began to branch out on the Fender-Rhodes Piano, and some early electric keyboards, which would point the way to the 70's.
    That decade would be one of non-stop growth as he began a life long love of keyboards and all gadgets electronic. He also began a turn towards trends away from straight jazz. Funk, pop, and later in that decade, disco, would all find themselves incorporated within his mix. This turn to a broader based jazz sound would also find himself hitting the charts on several occasions. The one most remembered would be, "Rockit" in 1983 due to it's cutting edge (at the time) video which found itself on regular rotation on MTV. Actually however, his most popular song was from 1974.
     "Chameleon" was off of the album, "Head Hunters", which has become one of the great jazz albums of the 70s. The album version was over fifteen minutes long, but of course was shortened greatly for top 40 consumption. This shorter version came very close to the top 40 (#42), and broadened Hancock's fan base. Having released his last album in 2010 at the age of 67, he doesn't seem ready to slow down at all. Below are a shorter version and also the album cut.


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