Friday, November 7, 2014

An Honest to Goodness Legend

Possibilities - Herbie Hancock with Lisa Dickey (Viking Books)

Over the course of time I have read stacks and stacks of musical biographies from a wide range of musical genres that have run the gamut from tell alls to those that covered one segment of an artist’s career including recording, touring and much, much more. Many had a tendency to fall into a familiar formula or pattern of ups and down and they often left me not much more informed about the subject than when I started.

The same cannot be said for Possibilities by legendary jazz, R&B and hip hop artist Herbie Hancock. Possibilities ranks as one of the most open and honest biographies of a musical performer I have ever read. Writing with Lisa Dickey, Hancock delves deeply into his seven decade career that has spanned not only the time but a diverse range of musicals styles.

Hancock has clearly made a career out of defying pigeonholes and labels to bring not only his masterful craftsmanship but his seemingly boundless creativity to bear on every project he undertakes. Hancock delivers great insights into the multitude of collaborators and cohorts that he has crossed musical and life paths with along the way.

The book provides a real sense of the unique combination of talent, desire and inherent genius that is a play in Hancock’s approach to music. One senses an all conquering drive and determination to deliver great music and an almost inner struggle; turmoil may be too strong a word, that is at play with Hancock when it comes to the need for success challenging the resolve for musical/artistic purity.

It’s easy to sense the level of enlightenment that Hancock’s practicing Buddhism has lent to his creativity and his life. Any jazz fan couldn’t help but be intrigued by Hancock’s stories about his time playing with Miles Davis.


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