Advertisement
Advertisement

JJ 06/70: Herbie Hancock – The Prisoner

A review by Mike Shera, first published in Jazz Journal June 1970

Herbie Hancock’s excellent series of Blue Note albums continues with The Prisoner, where he has chosen to write for a nine- or eleven-piece group. His writing is fresh and inspiring, though not very close to that of Gil Evans, whose work he says he admires so much.

His aims are similar (often fairly simple melodies with complex chord struc­tures, played by unusual combinations of instruments) though the sound is very dif­ferent. Like Evans he leaves plenty of space for his soloists, Johnny Coles, Joe Henderson and Garnett Brown.

Advertisement

The ideas behind the music are mostly con­cerned with Blacks, yet Hancock manages to convey the feelings without resorting to the ugly sounds of the ‘new thing’. I Have A Dream is, not unexpectedly, dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King.

The implica­tions of the title tune hardly need comment, whilst Buster Williams contrasts the fire of violence with the ‘water’ of Dr. King. The latter is also the ‘he’ of He Who Lives In Fear, whilst Hancock sees The Promise of the Sun as freedom to all living things, but not as yet to Blacks.

Non-commercial new recordings from Blue Note are not that frequent that one can afford to pass up one so good as this.
Mike Shera

Discography
(a) I Have A Dream; The Prisoner (19 min) – (b) Firewater; (a) He Who Lives in Fear; (b) Promise Of The Sun (22 min)
(a) Johnny Coles (fgl-h); Garnett Brown (tbn); Tony Studd (bs-tbn); Herbert Laws (flt); Jerome Richardson (bs-clt); Joe Henderson (ten/flt); Herbie Hancock (pno/elec-pno); Buster Williams (bs); Albert “Tootle” Heath (dm). NYC. 18, 21, 23/4/69. (b) Jack Jeffers (bs-tbn); Romeo Penque (bs-clt) added; Richardson also plays (flt) same dates.
(Blue Note BST 84321 47s 6d)

Latest audio reviews

Advertisement

More from this author

Advertisement

Jazz Journal articles by month

Advertisement

Misceo: Better Word For Love

The Misceo project started in autumn 2017 with drummer Frederik Bulow and cellist Joasia Cieslak joining forces to see what might happen when the...
Advertisement

Obituary: Chris Barber

It really seemed as if Chris Barber would go on forever. He was still playing trombone and leading his Big Jazz and Blues Band...
Advertisement

Meredith d’Ambrosio, the innocent radical

Meredith d’Ambrosio should be far better known. Pianist, singer, composer, lyricist, teacher, calligrapher and artist she is a true renaissance woman who was frequently...
Advertisement

Jazz Italiano: A History Of Italian Syncopated Music, 1904-1946

There was a question on one of the brainier TV quiz shows recently – QI or some such – that posed a kind of...
Advertisement

Thelonious Monk Quartet: Live

I saw Monk in concert three times: first with his quartet at Jazz Expo 69, then with the Giants of Jazz in 1971 and...
Advertisement

JJ 01/69: Wayne Shorter – Adam’s Apple

Wayne Shorter is a bitch. A beautiful, complete player who since joining Miles has passed beyond his Coltrane phase, to a wholly personal sound...