The Piano

COMPOSERS: Herbie Hancock
LABELS: Sony Jazz
PERFORMER: Herbie Hancock
CATALOGUE NO: CK 87083

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Similar words only begin to describe The Piano, a long out-of-print collection of solos from pianist Herbie Hancock. His first unaccompanied recital was a direct-to-disc production, from studio to disc-cutting machine with no edits or stopping possible from start to finish of a 16-minute LP side.

Hancock brilliantly rose to the medium’s challenge with a group of originals, plus several standards Miles Davis put on the map. Whether in full virtuosic flight or leaving breathing room in all the right places, Hancock is totally in command of the acoustic concert grand’s registral possibilities.

Familiar gestures emerge newly minted, such as the gentle bitonal trills that begin ‘On Green Dolphin Street’, the nearly reckless two-handed energy he builds up towards the end of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’, or the relaxed, unfettered take on the venerable 12-bar blues in ‘Blue Otari’.

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Equally commanding alternate takes of the first four selections add value to this welcome reissue, whose exceptional audio quality does full justice to Hancock’s wide dynamic range and bottomless fount of articulations.