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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

[Throwback] HERBIE HANCOCK - "Rockit" (LIVE)

Herbie Hancock is one of the most talented artists around having honed his skills on hundreds of great records since he first broke onto the scene in 1960. One of Hancock's greatest talents is his ability to stay true to his jazz roots while absorbing and transforming new musical movements of the day. His work as part of the The Miles Davis Quintet between 1963 and 1968 helped marry the burgenoing free jazz scene with the more traditional harmonies and rhythms of free bop. Also with Davis, Hancock took part in sessions for classic fusion albums "In A Silent Way" and "On The Corner" which helped him evolve the concept of his own fusion band, the sextet known as The Mwandishi Band - to me the most underrated of fusion groups. In the late '70s and early '80s he adapted to the disco scene (resulting in a handfull of, to my ears, very sub-par albums) but it was with his incorporation of the rapidly evolving hip-hop scene that he truly captured the young audience.

Hooking up with prolific record producer and bassist Bill Laswell, keyboardist Michael Beinhorn and legendary turntable wizard Grandmixer D.ST (now known as DXT) Hancock released the groundbreaking "Future Shock" LP in 1983. Using their jazz sensibilities the group combined deep grooves of electro and funk with blistering keyboard solos, screeching electric guitars (courtesy of the extremely underrated Pete Cosey), booming drum programming and powerful turntable attacks. The turntables were treated as any other instrument, with the DJ being given equal billing as a soloist and ensemble player as Hancock himself. The lead single "Rockit" with it's strangely weird concept video (see above) became the first hip-hop video ever played by MTV, a channel which at the time heavily downplayed music by black artists. As the first true combination of jazz and hip-hop the album, and especially "Rockit", was a revelation... a musical revolution!

Check out the rare clip of Hancock and the Rockit band (as it is often referred to) smash a blazing version of "Rockit" with D.ST on the wheels of steel. I'm not sure where the footage is lifted from but it is likely that it's from a tour done the same year as the release of the album. ROCKIT!!!

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