Thursday, 27 November 2008

"Then And Now: The Definitive..." by HERBIE HANCOCK (2008 Universal/Verve CD + DVD Remaster With 2 Previously Unreleased, One Of Which Feats JONI MITCHELL) - A Review by Mark Barry

"…Wiggle Waggle…" 

This November 2008 compilation finally gives an all-eras single-disc "Best Of" to Herbie Hancock - one of America's finest jazz pianists - and long overdue it is too. It features two Previously Unreleased tracks and a rare JONI MITCHELL appearance with other top-name guests like Wayne Shorter, Harvey Mason, Bobby McFerrin, Marcus Miller, Larry Klein and John Scofield. 

Unlike the US CD issue - some of the UK and European copies come as a DELUXE EDITION in a card wrap that has a 3-track DVD (use the catalogue number/barcode provided below to get the right issue). 

Here's a detailed breakdown of "Then And Now: The Definitive..." by HERBIE HANCOCK on Universal/Verve 0602517809710 (Barcode 602517809710) - what track is from what and who played on them (68:45 minutes):

1. Maiden Voyage (from "Maiden Voyage", 1965 LP on Blue Note BST-84195)
2. Cantaloupe Island (from "Empyrean Isles", 1964 LP on Blue Note BST-84175)
[1 and 2 feature Freddie Hubbard on Trumpet, Ron Carter on Bass and Tony Williams on Drums]

3. Wiggle Waggle (from "Fat Albert Rotunda", 1970 LP on Warner Brothers 1834)

4. Chameleon (Edit, 7:35 minutes) (from "Head Hunters" by Head Hunters featuring Herbie Hancock, 1973 LP on Columbia 32731)
[Features Bernie Maupin on Saxophones, Paul Jackson on Bass and Harvey Mason on Drums]

5. St. Louis Blues (from "Gershwin's World", 1998 CD on Verve 557 797-2)
[a W.C. Handy cover version featuring Stevie Wonder on Vocals and Harmonica]

6. Chan's Song (Never Said) (from "'Round Midnight", 1986 LP on Columbia 40464)
[Co-written with Stevie Wonder and featuring Bobby McFerrin on Vocals, Ron Carter on Bass and Tony Williams on drums]

7. River (on "River: The Joni Letters", 2007 CD on Verve 9791)
[Features UK soul singer Corrine Bailey Ray on Vocals with Wayne Shorter on Tenor and Soprano Saxophones. All tracks on the "River..." album are Joni Mitchell cover versions]

8. Don't Explain (from "Possibilities", 2005 on Vector 70013)
[Features Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan on Vocals]

9. All Apologies (from "The New Standard", 1996 CD on Verve 527 715-2)
[Nirvana/Kurt Cobain cover version featuring John Scofield on Electric Sitar]

10. Watermelon Man (as per 4)
[10 features the same musicians as 4, but this track also has John Scofield on Electric Sitar] 

11. Rockit (Live) (from "Future 2 Future", 2002 DVD release, previously unreleased on CD)

12.  River (Live) (from "Nissan Live Sets On Yahoo! Music" recorded in March 2006, previously unreleased on CD) 
[12 features JONI MITCHELL covering her own song, she sings Lead Vocals. The band is Bob Sheppard on Sax, Lionel Loueke on Guitar, Marcus Miller on bass and Vinnie Colaluta on Drums]

1. Cantaloupe Island [6:32 minutes]
2. River (featuring Joni Mitchell) [8:24 minutes] 
3. Hana (featuring Joni Mitchell and Sonya Kitchell) [5:03 minutes]
Tracks 2 and 3 from "Nissan Live Sets on Yahoo! Music" (2008) 

The track choices in some cases are obvious "Maiden Voyage" and "Cantaloupe" - but the clever sequencing and the vocal duets break up the listen from being entirely instrumental. Also despite the songs jumping from decade to decade - the KEVIN REEVES remastered sound on all of them is superb - very clean and muscular. The only slightly superfluous song is a live version of his 1983 hit "Rockit!" rather than the preferred studio version, but that's easily forgotten when you hear what follows it - a lovely and unexpected appearance of Joni's "River" featuring the great lady herself. Although Mitchell's voice has been cracking in these last few years (please stop smoking Joni - you're too valuable to your loved ones to be lost to that crap) - she stills manages a really tender performance. 

Funky and fun one moment ("Wiggle Waggle") then tender and even sad the next ("Don't Explain") - this CD compilation is a blindingly good listen that lasts all the way through to the end. Hopefully "Then & Now" will bring more music lovers to Herbie's four-decade long contribution to both jazz and the mainstream. His brand of Funky Funky can wiggle my waggle any day of the week...(and its dirt-cheap too)…

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