Herbie Hancock | The New Standard

When this album came out, I was amazed that critics failed to rave over it. Part of the reason may have been the choice of repertoire - songs by the likes of the Beatles, Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Prince and so on - which makes this one of the earliest examples (along with Yuri Honing in Holland) of a jazz musician in contemporary times (which is to say post 1990) turning to songs from popular culture as a basis for jazz improvisation.    Herbie Hancock | The New StandardIndeed, this was the main complaint, as I recall, from many reviewers at the time. Now, of course, it’s highly fashionable to incorporate the odd Radiohead tune or a ballad by Nick Drake into your repertoire so perhaps the time has come to reappraise this album afresh. From the opening ‘New York Minute’ this album bursts with energy and creativity. Hancock soars and Brecker burns. This is dynamic jazz from some of the greatest players in contemporary times. One or two tunes don’t make the transition entirely successfully into jazz vehicles, but certainly nine tracks out of the 11 represent impeccable, burning New York-style jazz of the highest order. I even quite like Scofield’s electric sitar on the Nirvana tune ‘All Apologies,’ while the Crescent City feel they give to the Prince tune ‘Thieves in the Temple’ recasts the song in a fresh light. Highly recommended.

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