Earlier this year, VMP announced that in celebration of Herbie Hancock’s 80th trip around the sun, we’d be releasing a career-spanning Herbie Hancock Anthology, our box set series celebrating legendary artists and labels. Well, today’s the day: Our VMP Anthology: The Story of Herbie Hancock is live, and you can buy it here.
When we started on this project, we realized the scope of Herbie’s discography is vast; he’s changed the styles and direction of jazz many times over in his time as a working musician. So we asked the person who knows his catalog best to narrow it down to eight albums: Herbie himself. Herbie picked these eight albums to represent his career, and each one represents different eras of his artistry.
Our eight-album, 11-LP box starts with Takin’ Off, Herbie’s debut as a bandleader, an album Donald Byrd organized the session for and told Herbie he was ready for. Next we go to Maiden Voyage, an album made during Herbie’s time working with Miles Davis, and one of the most foundational albums of modern jazz. Then we go to the totemic, and indomitable Head Hunters, the first platinum jazz album, and one that proved that the distance between funk and jazz was smaller than people imagined.
Next up we have Live Under The Sky, an album from Herbie’s V.S.O.P. super-group with Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, and Ron Carter, which was originally released in Japan only, and is here in a newly re-sequenced version overseen by Herbie. Then we change gears completely to show Herbie’s range in 1979: The Piano is the fifth album in our Anthology, an album of solo acoustic piano featuring just Herbie working his magic. Originally only released in Japan, it makes its U.S. vinyl debut as part of this Anthology.
The final three albums start with Future Shock, Herbie’s defining 1983 album that melded hip-hop to jazz, and which won Herbie what has to be the only VMA for a jazz legend ever. The seventh album in this Anthology is 1+1, Herbie’s duet album with old musical partner Wayne Shorter that features the two titans alone, standing on top of the mountain. It’s never been on vinyl before this Anthology. And the final album in our Anthology is River: The Joni Letters, a tribute album to his friend Joni Mitchell, and only the second mostly instrumental jazz album to win the Album of the Year Grammy.
As you can expect from VMP Anthologies, this will be an audiophile’s dream. All eight titles in this VMP Anthology had lacquers cut by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood. Takin’ Off, Maiden Voyage, Head Hunters, The Piano, and Future Shock were cut AAA from analog tapes, and 1+1 and The River, which were recorded digitally, and Live Under the Sky come from master digital audio. The albums were plated at RTI, and pressed at GZ on black 180g vinyl.
Additionally, Anthology purchasers will get first access to an exclusive podcast series hosted by Touré featuring interviews with Herbie, Ron Carter, Robert Glasper, Corinne Bailey Rae, and more, which serves as a guide for you as you take your voyage through Herbie discography.
You can buy this Anthology over here.