Herbie Hancock ‎– Takin’ Off (Full Album, 2014)

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“Takin’ Off is the debut album by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock released in 1962 by Blue Note Records. The recording session features Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone. The album is in the hard bop idiom, with its characteristic two horns and a rhythm section. The bluesy track “Watermelon Man” made it to the Top 100 of the singles charts, and went on to become a jazz standard. The album has been called “one of the most accomplished and stunning debuts in the annals of jazz.”” – Wikipedia.

“Herbie Hancock’s debut as a leader, Takin’ Off, revealed a composer and pianist able to balance sophistication and accessibility, somewhat in the vein of Blue Note’s prototype hard bopper Horace Silver. Yet while Hancock could be just as funky and blues-rooted as Silver, their overall styles diverged in several ways: Hancock was lighter and more cerebral, a bit more adventurous in his harmonies, and more apt to break his solos out of a groove (instead of using them to create one). So even if, in retrospect, Takin’ Off is among Hancock’s most conventional albums, it shows a young stylist already strikingly mature for his age, and one who can interpret established forms with spirit and imagination. Case in point: the simple, catchy “Watermelon Man,” which became a Hancock signature tune and a jazz standard in the wake of a hit cover by Latin jazz star Mongo Santamaria. Hancock’s original version is classic Blue Note hard bop: spare, funky piano riffing and tight, focused solo statements. The other compositions are memorable and well-constructed too (if not quite hit material); all have their moments, but particular highlights include the ruminative ballad “Alone and I,” the minor-key “The Maze” (which features a little bit of free improvisation in the rhythm section), and the bluesy “Empty Pockets.” The backing group includes then up-and-coming trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. All in all, Takin’ Off is an exceptional first effort, laying the groundwork for Hancock to begin pushing the boundaries of hard bop on his next several records.” – Steve Huey/AllMusic.

Track listing:
All compositions by Herbie Hancock.

“Watermelon Man” – 7:09
“Three Bags Full” – 5:27
“Empty Pockets” – 6:09
“The Maze” – 6:45
“Driftin'” – 6:58
“Alone and I” – 6:25

Herbie Hancock – piano
Freddie Hubbard – trumpet
Dexter Gordon – tenor saxophone
Butch Warren – double bass
Billy Higgins – drums


Released: 1962
Recorded: May 28, 1962
Studio: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Length: 39:01
Label: Blue Note
Producer: Alfred Lion