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Friday, 27 August 2010

Herbie Hancock Quartet - Empyrean Isles

(Blue Note (USA) Monaural LP BLP 417593, recorded 1964, released 1965)

Herbie Hancock was trying for a sound different from the trumpet / saxophone front line in this quartet with Freddie Hubbard playing cornet instead of his usual trumpet. The other players with Hancock also formed the Miles Davis rhythm section of the time, with Ron Carter, bass, and Tony WIlliams, drums. The music, all composed by Hancock, can be viewed as a loosely constructed parallel to the whimsical liner note story penned by Nora Kelly, which describes an idyllic 'lotus land' called Epyrean Isles. The most famous composition, "Canteloupe Island", later formed the basis for the '90s 'nu-jazz' hit by US3, "Canteloop", (which features British trumpeter Gerard Presencer playing a fabulous Freddie Hubbard-inspired solo). All the music here has an atmospheric bent, and both Hubbard and Hancock play impressively, as do the rhythm section.

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