When it comes to the music of Herbie Hancock, you can’t help but just listen and enjoy pure beauty. So is the case with The Imagine Project (Hancock), an album where Hancock dips into the pop world and collaborates with a wide range of artists that help bring forth the last lines in the chorus of John Lennon‘s “Imagine”: “I hope some day you will join us, and the world will live as one”. Can one imagine a world without boundaries? That’s what Hancock attempts to do with this album, which features Anoushka Shankar, Los Lobos, Dave Matthews (whose approach to The Beatles‘ “Tomorrow Never Knows” sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel), India.Arie, P!nk, Juanes, and Chaka Khan among many others.
Don’t expect for every song to be completely mindblowing, you can put on your elitist hat for a few songs or two but then allow yourself to open up and hear the album for what it is: a musical journey where artists, sounds, influences, and cultural divides come together for the sake of doing so, without thought of exploitation clauses in recording contracts. Hancock continues to show why he is a musician with a need to play and move people with his music, but as this is a pop-oriented album, there are times when the music is bigger than Hancock. Sure, I would’ve loved for him to freak the fuck out and get into Mwandishi mode with Dave Matthews as they turned “Tomorrow Never Knows” inside out, but what you hear is a more mainstream approach to the freak out, a lighter dose of the psychedelic haze that through Hancock makes the listener realize it’s all a mind game with no chemical enhancements whatsoever.
The Imagine Project fits in with what Hancock has done in the last ten years, and with luck,fans of the collaborating artists will move them to explore Hancock’s catalog, currently six decades deep.
Herbie Hancock had covered a lot of musical ground in the last 45 years, moving in and out of jazz and pop, influencing electronic music in his own way, and also become a part of hip-hop’s legacy. Now, as he enters his 70th year in life, he will be releasing an album that has been years in the making, a concept that brings him together with many artists around to world to celebrate music and life. He calls this The Imagine Project, scheduled for release on June 22, 2010 via Hancock Records/RED.
You’ll no doubt hear about these songs for the next three months, so let me just post a partial list of the people who are collaborating with on this album:
For this album, Hancock recorded and collaborated in Mumbai, India; São Paulo. Brazil; London, Miami, and Ireland. He could have easily collaborated via e-mail, transferring digital files back and forth, but the chemistry that is an important part of Hancock’s music would not be there, so everyone was able to see each other face to face and perform.
The album will be promoted in a number of ways, including a documentary film, and a concert tour. In time, all will be revealed in the months ahead.