In 1965, encouraged by his rabbi, the 17-year-old Jonathan Klein wrote a selection of jazz themes for a Jewish Sabbath concert. Originally recorded in 1968 by an all-star cast of musicians that included Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, and Ron Carter, the collection is a unique, free-flowing series of pieces that perfectly complement the accompanying Jewish Sabbath prayers, and provides a rare opportunity to hear these talented musicians performing in a unique setting that's at once creative and intensely devotional.
The all-star rhythm section for the former Miles Davis Quintet is represented here in a trio format. Herbie Hancock's piano playing is excellent, Tony Williams provides a good albeit gentle backdrop on the drums, but the real focus is Ron Carter's superb bass playing, in all of it's gooey grandeur. Ron Carter reeeaaallly shines on this album, his playing is the main focus of the session & every minute of listening time is to that of an acoustic bass virtuoso! Ron Carter on this date does not at all play electric but rather shows off his great chops on a contrabass with a sterling supportive cast.
Set upon recapturing the pop ground he had invaded with Future Shock, Hancock relies upon many of the former's ingredients for yet another go-'round on Perfect Machine. High-tech producer Bill Laswell is back, so is scratchmaster D. ST. – and armed with a warehouse of mostly digital keyboards, Hancock adds the distinctive bass of Bootsy Collins and the Ohio Players' vocalist Sugarfoot, who always sounds as if he had just swallowed something. The music is mostly thumping, funk-drenched techno-pop which still has some verve, particularly the designated single "Vibe Alive" and the "Maiden Voyage" interlude as heard through an electronic fun-house mirror. But this is not really an advance over Hancock's early-'80s pop projects.
For his third album, Inventions and Dimensions, Herbie Hancock changed course dramatically. Instead of recording another multifaceted album like My Point of View, he explored a Latin-inflected variation of post-bop with a small quartet. Hancock is the main harmonic focus of the music – his three colleagues are bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Willie Bobo, and percussionist Osvaldo "Chihuahua" Martinez, who plays conga and bongo. It is true that the music is rhythm-intensive, but that doesn't mean it's dance music. Hancock has created an improvisational atmosphere where the rhythms are fluid and the chords, harmonies, and melodies are unexpected.
In the grand tradition of sequels, Sound-System picks up from where Future Shock left off – if anything, even louder and more bleakly industrial than before (indeed, "Hardrock" is "Rockit" with a heavier rock edge). Yet Hancock's experiments with techno-pop were leading him in the general direction of Africa, explicitly so with the addition of the Gambian multi-instrumentalist Foday Musa Suso on half of the tracks. "Junku," written for the 1984 Olympic Games with Suso's electrified kora in the lead, is the transition track that stands halfway between "Rockit" and Hancock's mid-'80s Afro-jazz fusions. Also, "Karabali" features an old cohort, the squealing Wayne Shorter on soprano sax. Despite succumbing a bit to the overwhelming demand for more "Rockits," Hancock's electric music still retained its adventurous edge.