Herbie Hancock CD Possibilities is a must have IMO. Especially the Christina Aguilera cut A Song For You. The entire cd is good but Christina does a wonderful job with this song. When I want to evaluate any system It is one of the first cuts I reach for. I also like it when he plays Standards best.
Herbie's work with Mies Davis is wonderful. Of his catalogue as leader I have only these two, which I enjoy very much: Empyrean Isles; and Maiden Voyage.
I like Brazil album.
Push-Push is great as well.
Czarivey, I believe you are referring to Herbie Mann.
Hancock's Blue Note recordings are a very good example of the old adage that, the better the music, the worse the recording.
I'm not so high on late model Herbie, but "The River" covering the songs of Joni Mitchell, who he worked with extensively, is nice music, well recorded. But IMHO, it still pales in comparison to the Blue Notes, but these are matters of taste, and Hancock, like Mitchell, has traversed so many styles and idioms that it's hard to pick a best.
Ponnie, Rockadanny, Viridian -
Very appreciative of the suggestions! Viridian, I'll definitely look into "The River", but you lost me at "Blue Note". Are you saying this is a bad recording? If so that would be the opposite of what I'm looking for. For what it's worth I have yet to hear any HH that I'd consider 'bad music', and I think that makes my task pretty easy: sift through the thousands of his recordings to shake out those that are great. I'm not at all concerned about the quality of the music itself.
Keep the suggestions coming - really looking forward to hearing these on my new system.
You're right Viridian my errrrorrr :)
My apoligies, I mean Hancock's classic albums on the Blue Note label, engineered by Rudy Van Gelder.
These are straight ahead jazz as opposed to the Funk that came later with his group the Headhunters or the rather stylized music of more recent times.
I think that "The River" may be just what you are looking for. Wayne Shorter's sax work is fantastic on this one as well. But take heed, this is a vocal album with Norah Jones, Corrine Bailey Rae, and others. So if you avoid vocal music this one may not be for you. There are some utube videos from the album that are excellent one with the fantastic enfent terible bass wizard Tal Wilkenfeld that will part your hair.
****Educate me on the topic of Herbie if you feel so inclined****
Well, one of the few artists who merits owning every single recording that he has done. Possible to document the evolution of jazz and all it's peripheral influences on other genres from the '60s to the present. One could argue about stylistic issues, but not a single bad recording that I can think of in his discography.
****I'm looking for a somewhat wide soundstage in a fairly intimate live setting****
Easy! Not sure what you consider intimate, but for a live recording it's got to be "V.S.O.P." Three different periods and bands in his stylistic evolution are represented; but, the band that is essentially Miles' Quintet (with Freddie Hubbard "as Miles") that is the highlight. Great record.
If owning all of his records is not an option, ones that I would definitely make sure I have:
As a leader:
"Maiden Voyage", "Speak Like A Child", "Head Hunters", "Gershwin's
Anything with Miles
Wayne Shorter "Speak No Evil", "Adam's Apple", "Native Dancer"
Hank Mobley "The Turnaround"
Milton Nascimento "Milton's"
Joni Mitchell "Mingus"
Jack DeJohnette "Parallel Realities"
Michael Brecker "Pilgrimage"
All these suggestions kick butt. Outstanding suggestions all. And Viridian, I love vocals and in particuar Norah's.
The River is a wonderful album. I'm not a big fan of Norah Jones. But her contributions here are fantastic. You won't regret it.
He won a Grammy with "The River". I Like!
A few others I don't see mentioned:
1) Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea in Concert.Recorded during 1978 tour at various venues. Very well recorded.
2) HH & Wayne Shorter 1+1. Piano and soprano sax.
3) Headhunters- Funky period.
Maiden Voyage is his definitive classic Blue Note recording.
His 'electric' period is eclectic and interesting. Of course it starts with Miles (as it did for SO many others!). He later called himself Mwandishi Herbie Hancock and recorded 'Crossings' & 'Sextant'. Very spacy electric experimentation. He than went back to being plain ol' Herbie and formed the Headhunters. Everyone tends to focus on Return To Forever (Chick Corea), Weather Report (Zawinul & Shorter), & The Mahavishnu Orchestra (John McLaughlin) as the heaviest hitters of the original Fusion Era. The Headhunters brought the Funk into Fusion and were equally influential, if not more so, on Electric Jazz than the others. He than started to 'cash in' playing his least enjoyable, for me, but infinitely more profitable 'Disco' 'Club' records with 'Sunlight' and the Grammy winning 'Future Shock'. My favorite later recordings of his were the duets with Chick Corea, VSOP, and 'Gershwin's World'. For me, he has an instantly recognizable sound when playing an electric piano, something he rarely does these days but was lovely to hear on Michael Breckers final recording 'Pilgramage'. A favorite story is of George Benson citing his CTI 'White Record' (Herbie did some amazing work as a sideman on CTI!) as his least-liked recording due to the session 'getting away' from him. I love this record so go figure! But his statement is understandable if you listen to one cut; 'Little Train', George basically plays the theme, solos a bit, and than Herbie and Billy Cobham take OFF!! Whew! guess you could say I'm a fan;)
Lot of difference between Maiden Voyage and Headhunters. Although I enjoyed Headhunters, the earlier stuff appealed to me more. Maiden Voyage and albums made right after sounded much more like jazz to me, Headhunters not so much.
I asked a question years ago about great piano recordings. I was introduced to Herbie Hancock 'The Piano' and it is absolutely amazing. Google search this release but understand that Wikipedia doesn't give you much information at all. This was a direct to disc recording where Herbie only paused for the groove cut in the vinyl between tracks. It's a treasure and although Herbie has many, he's a jazz musician and this is all the standards played by Herbie all by himself. It's priceless. If you want to get to know Herbie Hancock, this is where you start. Then rewind to his early career.
That's George Benson's "White Rabbit", not "White Record".
Intimate live setting - no, studio - yes, incredibly well done - yes, wide soundstage - yes: HH's The New Standard. So it meets two of the original poster's four criteria. I love this one, it's as fresh as anything HH has done.