Herbie Hancock. At the beginning of his career.

Herbie Hancock. At the beginning of his career. 

Like many jazz pianists, Hancock started with a classical music education. He studied from age seven, and his talent was recognized early. Considered a child prodigy, he played the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537 (Coronation) at a young people’s concert on February 5, 1952, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (led by CSO assistant conductor George Schick) at the age of 11.


Through his teens, Hancock never had a jazz teacher, but developed his ear and sense of harmony. He was also influenced by records of the vocal group the Hi-Lo’s. He reported that:

1. “…by the time I actually heard the Hi-Lo’s, I started picking that stuff out; my ear was happening. I could hear stuff and that’s when I really learned some much farther-out voicings – like the harmonies I used on Speak Like a Child – just being able to do that. I really got that from Clare Fischer’s arrangements for the Hi-Lo’s. Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept…he and Bill Evans, and Ravel and Gil Evans, finally. You know, that’s where it came from.”  

In 1960, he heard Chris Anderson play just once, and begged him to accept him as a student. Hancock often mentions Anderson as his harmonic guru.



References
1. Jazz-rock Fusion: The People, the Music
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11 thoughts on “Herbie Hancock. At the beginning of his career.

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  1. I’ve been on a Bobby Hutcherson kick of late, and just yesterday I played Happenings, which features Hancock. This quartet version (sans horns, brass) of “Maiden Voyage” I prefer over the original. Hancock’s solo is just beautiful, anticipating his piano in the title track of Speak Like a Child, probably my favorite Hancock track.

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