Herbie Hancock

A hugely influential figure in jazz, Herbie Hancock first built his reputation as an innovative rhythmic pianist playing with the Miles Davis Quintet, which helped define a new fusion sound for jazz, embracing synthesizers and other modern technology. Born in Chicago, he studied classical music and was considered something of a child prodigy before he got into jazz after hearing Oscar Peterson and George Shearing play. Discovery by Miles Davis propelled him into the limelight and he worked as a sideman for some of jazz's biggest names while branching out on his own with the highly regarded albums 'Empyrean Isles' and 'Maiden Voyage'. His music for the movie 'Blowup' launched Hancock on a parallel career as a film composer and, inspired by Miles Davis's 'Bitches Brew' album, he started experimenting with jazz-rock fusions; his Mwandishi album series saw him move in an ever-more rockier direction, incorporating soul and funk. He even moved into disco and in 1978 used a vocoder on the hit singles 'I Thought It Was You' and 'Feets Don't Fail Me Now'. Accused of selling out, Hancock hit back in 1983 with 'Rockit', returning to his roots with 'A Tribute to Miles' in 1994. However, he continued to experiment with techno and made further impact with 'Gershwin's World' in 1995, duets album 'Possibilities' in 2005, and the Joni Mitchell collaboration 'River - The Joni Letters' in 2007. In 2009 he performed at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration concert. In 2010 he released 'The Imagine Project' which featured collaborations with artists including Seal, James Morrison, Pink and John Legend. The album charted at number two in the Billboard Jazz Chart.

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