Herbie Hancock - Possibilities
Magnolia Home Entertainment // Unrated // $26.98 // April 18, 2006
Review by Louis Howard | posted April 19, 2006
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At this point an elder statesman in jazz, Herbie Hancock is respected by peers and fans alike; a musician of such lofty note as to not be in the shadows of early legendary employer Miles Davis. A prodigy who took up piano at age 7, he soloed with the Chicago Symphony when he was 11. After study at Grinnell College he joined Donald Byrd's group in New York City and before long was offered a solo contract with Blue Note Records, recording "Taking Off", which did indeed take off in popularity. In 1963 he was invited by Miles Davis to join his band. Hancock stayed for 5 years, both artists gaining influence from the other in the process; because of Herbie, Davis was influenced in the direction of his music and because of encouragement from Miles, Herbie loosened up his playing style.

At Miles' suggestion Hancock also converted to the Rhodes electric piano and his music has ever seemed to evolve from there, employing any number of musical genres seemingly with ease- blues, funk, gospel, electronic and acoustic jazz among them. Having been an innovator for decades in the jazz and rock world, Hancock's place in music annals is secure; so any twist or turn he should happen to take with this latest foray should come as little shock to his fans.

This DVD is something of a companion piece to his 2005 audio release of the same name, "Possibilities" and brings forth some interesting work. Hancock's blueprint here is reminiscent of what Carlos Santana has been doing for the past decade since his "Supernatural" recording and subsequent reentry into present day popularity among new generations of listeners; record solid material with something of his signature style while bringing in contemporary musical guests for accompaniment. The melting pot formula has worked enormously well for Santana, and it is possible that Herbie will manage to accomplish the same feat given the positive results of many collaborations here.

Here is a track listing of the audio release, and the songs included on the DVD as well-

Stitched Up- featuring John Mayer
Safiatou- featuring Santana and Angilique Kidjo
A Song For You- featuring Christina Aguilera
I Do It For Your Love- featuring Paul Simon
Hush, Hush, Hush- featuring Annie Lennox
Sister Moon- featuring Sting
When Love Comes To Town- featuring Jonny Lang and Joss Stone
Don't Explain- featuring Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan
I Just Called To Say I Love You- featuring Raul Midon (also featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica)
Gelo No Montana- featuring Trey Anastasio

Having said this, while I think the music itself is quite pleasing and probably makes for a great CD, one should not buy this release thinking in terms of a concert or music video DVD. This is mostly a 90 minute documentary on the making of the "Possibilities" audio recording more than anything, as well as an in-depth look at Herbie and how he both thinks and works in musical terms in the studio. There are plenty of one one one interview snippets with Herbie reminiscing on his time playing with Miles as well as working with the musicians at hand, as well as the various artist discussing working with Hancock. Musically speaking you aren't going to get the songs in complete form, only bits and pieces of the recordings. While there are some truly beautiful musical interludes here, expect them to be short and leaving you wishing for more.


Video is presented here in 1.78:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Colors are deep and true and the picture seems very clean and sharp, with blacks rendered very well. Frankly its a beautiful DVD to watch; visually I find it hard to fault this disc.


Audio tracks available here are Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. This is a clean enough track that is faithful to the material in regards to spoken word. It lacks a bit of depth during the musical segments, but bear in mind most songs here are only segments of studio work and as such are unpolished; in that regard I find the audio fine given the material. I listened to the 5.1 rendition and checked the 2.0 which is also a decent track.


Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter About 9 minutes long and apparently recorded in Japan, this is a music video- like segment that cuts between the artists playing live and traveling in that country.
Herbie Hancock and Trey Anastasio- A short 2 minute piece of the two playing together at home segued with some outdoors footage.

Final Thoughts-

How the viewer will regard this release depends on what they are looking for; if you're wanting for a great Herbie Hancock documentary up close and in the studio, this disc is certainly for you. If your desire is to have a complete visual take on the Possibilities CD you may come away disappointed. What I got from it was some great insight on the man as well as being introduced to what his new CD consists of; in essence a good promotional video for the audio release that will probably entice you to want to own both. Recommended.

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