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Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles

Album Notes

The Rudy Van Gelder Edition of EMPYREAN ISLES includes an essay by Bob Blumenthal.

Personnel: Herbie Hancock (piano); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Ron Carter (bass); Tony Williams (drums).

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 17, 1964. Includes liner notes by Nora Kelly.

Digitally remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.

This is part of the Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.

Herbie Hancock's tenure with Miles Davis had a profound influence on EMPYREAN ISLES. Hancock made even more expressive motions of the freer forms and modal progressions explored by Davis' band. This is no surprise, as Hancock was one of the chief navigators of the Davis group's astounding explorations. On ISLES, Hancock employs Davis bandmates Tony Williams and Ron Carter, along with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, for a revolutionary recording as significant as Hancock's better-known MAIDEN VOYAGE.

The burning opener "One Finger Snap," presented here in two takes, is a very open-sounding piece. Liquid chords seem to float underneath Hubbard's soaring lines as Williams attacks his drums with brute force. In contrast, the mysterious "Oliloqui Valley," again in two takes, begins with shifting dynamics and moods, opening into a gliding solo section that features Hancock's expert keyboard work. The funky "Cantaloupe Island," which has been widely sampled, and the exploratory "The Egg" are both excellent examples of Hancock's genre-bending genius.


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