Transparent Music – 2001 - 55 minutes
Yet another new album from a resurrected musical legend of the 1970s? Those who don't know much about Herbie Hancock might smell a record company rat, but the reality is quite different. The keyboard genius who kicked off his musical career in Donald Byrd's band in 1960 has never failed to keep up with the musical times.
In 1963 he answered the phone and found himself in the Miles Davis Quintet. After taking his leave, he practically invented jazz-funk in 1973 with the release of the hip-shaking Headhunters. It was jazz's first platinum album. In 1983 he hooked up with 'Future2Future' producer Bill Laswell to release 'Futureshock'. The 'Rockit' single was hugely successful; he was probably the first serious musical star to engage with hip-hop.
In many ways, 'Future2Future' is a sequel to 'Futureshock', seeing Hancock interface with the two leading forms of black urban music – hip-hop and jungle. To this end, he pulls in talent from yesterday and today.
Disco queen Chaka Khan drops a fine vocal on the slightly overcooked drum'n'bass of 'The Essence', which sneakily samples 'Headhunters', while turntablist Rob Swift creates the perfect backing to Hancock's lush keyboard work on 'This Is Rob Swift'.
A Guy Called Gerald, the man who most credit with inventing jungle, contributes a spacey percussive excursion on 'Black Gravity'. Carl Craig's work is sterling on 'Kerbero I & II', the breaks are loose and jazzy but still very much fixed in a techno-oriented space.
Occasionally it's difficult for the main man to make himself heard over such high-calibre collaborators, but the soul of the legend at the keyboards is the real attraction of this album.
Tracklisting: Kebero Part 1 – Wisdom – The Essence – This is Rob Swift – Black Gravity – Tony Williams – Be Still – Ionosphere – Kebero Part 2 – Alphabeta – Virtual Hornets