Herbie Hancock

Piano

was born in Chicago 1940. He initially studied to become an electrical engineer, but after moving to New York and being hired by trumpeter Donald Byrd in 1960, Hancock became a professional musician. He came to prominence in the classic Miles Davis Quintet of 1963-'68 but before that he had already made his mark as a composer, writing successfully for the popular market. His "Watermelon Man" became a huge hit and making both ground-breaking jazz and popular hits is a knack he has maintained throughout his career. Many other Hancock compositions have become jazz standards, including "Maiden Voyage," "Dolphin Dance" and "Speak Like A Child.". While with the Miles Davis Quintet, Herbie Hancock became recognised for redefining the role of the rhythm section. Along with his rhythm section, drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter they established a looser, more indirect approach to accompaniment. Towards the end of his stint with the Miles Davis Quintet, the band began its move into Jazz-Rock. 
Hancock was entirely comfortable with this style and in the early 1970s Hancock played with Julian Priester and Bennie Maupin in a fusion band that blended African, rock and Asian influences. Hancock subsequently turned to a hugely popular form of electric funk, with the group Headhunters, which melded the thumb-popping electric bass of Sly and the Family Stone with psychedelic synthesizer sounds and extended jazz improvisations. The pianist wrote the score for Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow-up and won an Oscar for his score for the film 'Round Midnight, in which he also had an acting role. By the end of the 1970s his popularity in the disco market was such that he cut back even further on straight Jazz performances. In the group V.S.O.P. (a recreation of the Davis Quintet, but with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet) however, Hancock maintained the suggestion that he was still interested in Jazz. Herbie Hancock, along with Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner can be considered as one of the primary influences on contemporary Jazz piano.

Recommended recordings
 
Speak Like A Child Blue Note  
Maiden Voyage Blue Note  
The Prisoner Blue Note  
The best of, The Blue Note Years Blue Note  
Takin' off Blue Note
Empyrean Isles Blue Note  
Headhunters Columbia
Round Midnight Columbia  
Thrust Columbia Thrust
V.S.O.P. the Quintet Columbia The V.S.O.P. Quintet Live
Gershwin's World Verve Gershwin's World
The New Standard Verve New Standard
My Point of View Phantom  
Mwandishi The complete Warner Bros Mwandishi
Oblique (w Bobby Hutcherson) Blue Note  
Inventions and Dimensions Blue Note  
   
   
Some of the Best Contemporary Jazz Pianists
   
Kenny Barron
Joe Zawinul
Brad Meldau
Bill Charlap
Keith Jarrett
Chick Corea