Possibilities by Herbie Hancock is scheduled for release August 30. I have been privileged to receive an advance copy for this review.
Herbie Hancock is a bit of a cipher to me. His musical credentials are impeccable having played with the likes of Miles Davis and written jazz near-standards like “Chameleon” and “Watermelon Man.” However, it is as if, from time-to-time, he is overcome with the desire to be mainstream and he churns out stuff like the wildly popular, but ultimately inane and boring “Rockit”
The Possibilities album is a duets album in which he is paired with people ranging from Carlos Santana to Christina Aguilera. Duet albums are usually designed to create sales for artists whose time has past, and for those with which they are paired to pay homage to those great artists. Typically the duet partners work to blend themselves with the style and sound of the primary artist.
This album is precisely the opposite. Hancock works diligently to suit himself to the work of the artists with whom he is paired. The result is an album that lacks any central themes or sound. This is just another nail in the album form’s coffin. It becomes impossible to review it as an album — the best one can do is look at the individual cuts.
There is nothing bad on this CD, but of the 10 cuts only a few could be called “good.” In large part the cuts are indistinguishable background music falling basically in the realm of “smooth jazz.” Four cuts deserve special mention.
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” a Stevie Wonder cover pairs Hancock with Raul Midon and contains some very interesting musical ideas which are fascinating to listen to, but ultimately they fail to please.
“Sister Moon” pairs Hancock with Sting. The cut pleases without being truly outstanding. “When Love Comes To Town” pairing Hancock with Joss Stone and Jonny Lang is a remarkably innovative cover of the old BB King blues standard. They have succeeded in breathing new life into this old song and it is a joy to hear.
Far and away, the standout cut of the CD is “Stitched Up” pairing Hancock and John Mayer. A great blending of soul and jazz, this tune puts a smile on your face and keeps your foot tapping.
While not an album I could list as great, it is an album well worth the price of admission. I just wish it bore more of Herbie Hancock’s stamp and less of his partners.
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