[JPL] Hit List: Herbie Hancock The Grammy-winning pianist on his
favorite jazz takes on pop songs (WSJ)
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Hit List: Herbie Hancock
The Grammy-winning pianist on his favorite jazz takes on pop songs
By LYNEKA LITTLE
February 16, 2008; Page W2
Herbie Hancock's win for album of the year at the 50th-annual Grammy Awards
came as a shock to many in the music industry -- Mr. Hancock included. The
jazz pianist's winning album, "River: The Joni Letters," pays homage to folk
singer Joni Mitchell whom he calls a "genius lyric writer" and a
"renaissance person." A former child prodigy who once played with the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Hancock has been performing for more than 45
years. We talked to Mr. Hancock recently about his favorite jazz covers of
* * *
'Emily' by Bill Evans, from 'Further Conversations With Myself'
"I love the melody," says Mr. Hancock of the tune, which appeared in its
original form in the movie "The Americanization of Emily." Mr. Evans "was
such an amazing player, with a gorgeous touch."
Listen to an audio clip of "Emily."1
* * *
'Time After Time' by Miles Davis, from 'You're Under Arrest...'
"He did it with his famous muted trumpet sound," says Mr. Hancock of the
tune, which was co-written and first performed by Cyndi Lauper. "It gives a
depth and body to the song in a way that only Miles could do."
Listen to an audio clip of "Time After Time."2
* * *
'My Favorite Things' by John Coltrane, from 'My Favorite Things'
The Rodgers and Hammerstein tune was made popular by "The Sound of Music."
Mr. Coltrane "puts a kind of an exotic flavor on the song, and a rhythmic
pulse that gives it a driving force that really gets inside your skin," says
* * *
'Body and Soul' by Coleman Hawkins, from 'Body and Soul'
This 1930 song was later performed on-stage in the musical revue "Three's a
Crowd." It has been reinterpreted many times since. Mr. Hancock says
Hawkins' take "is the definite jazz version of 'Body and Soul.' "
Listen to an audio clip of "Body and Soul."3
* * *
'A Day in the Life' by Wes Montgomery, from 'A Day in the Life'
A reinvention of a classic Beatles rock song by one of jazz's great
guitarists. "He had almost, like, a built-in sense of musical melodic
balance where everything fits so perfectly," Mr. Hancock says of Mr.
Listen to an audio clip of "A Day in the Life."4
Write to Lyneka Little at lyneka.little at wsj.com5
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