Ren's Music Reviews

"Herbie Hancock: Possibilities."
Herbie Hancock: Possibilities.Jazz Album – Celebrity Collaboration project is difficult to define yet remains familiar and enjoyable.

Most of the music I own are either Motion Picture Soundtracks or fall under the category "sound track of my life." The music that is the "the sound track of my life" is Jazz and Classical, since no other genre is able to capture a range emotions from raw feeling to complex sensations.

The sub-categories could be labeled as "Road Music (perfect for driving,) "Night Club jazz" (up-beat music to entertain and drink to,) and "After Midnight…" the kind of music that’s perfect to listen to when spending quite time with someone special. The fourth category is "Compilation" for disks that defy being put into one single category. This album,
"Possibilities" fits into that last category...

"Possibilities" is a great album, it’s hard to define. It’s understandable that since this disk is a compilation with celebrities collaborating with Hancock on every song. With well established artists and new comers alike, these are some terrific songs that seem to belong on different albums. Many of the songs are up-beat, while other songs are melancholy and capture the feelings of love – love gone wrong and love lost that only Jazz is able to capture and convey.
John Mayer’s "Stitched Up" has a very metro – urban heavy jazz quality, a song about sexual conquest and less about love. Or maybe this is a song about finding out the hot little number all the other guys have had their eyes on turns out to be his true love after their first few nights together. Who knows… other then it sets the wrong tone for this album.

Track Number 2 - "Safiatou," a collaboration with Santana and Angelique Kid Joe, sounds like it was a left-over/bonus track from one of Santana’s great albums "Supernatural." On it’s own, it’s a great song, but as a part of this compilation album I’m left wondering why it’s here.

Christina Aguilera trades in her "Pop Tart" status for "Jazz siren" with subtle and toned downed vocal gymnastics in "A Song For You," the first great song on this disk about love lost or found. There were several times when I first heard this disk that I had to keep checking to see if it really was Miss Aguilera singing this song, it sounds like a modern version of a Golden Era ballad that could have been sung by "This Gun For Hire" starlet, Veronica Lake.

Paul Simon’s contribution to this disk reminds me of the best Summer and Autumn of my life back in 1997, the song is a slice of life about a new couple in their new apartment and their struggles to get by. "I Did It For Your Love" is a good listen and enjoyable… but personally my mind wonders each time I listen to it, I'm caught up in the memories it invokes and wondering how I could have savored those quiet rainy nights longer, which, I guess that's a complment.

Former Front-woman of "The Eurythmics," Annie Lennox works some quiet magic on the song "Hush Hush," again captures "Love Gone Wrong" in her ballad. Similar to Christina Aguilera’s song in theme and style earlier on this disk, this isn’t anything like what I remember of Ms. Lennox’s work in the 1980's. I’m not sure who’s responsible for this change in style, either it’s hers or Hancock’s… but it’s welcome addition. (There's something to this song that reminded me of "Vangelis's 'Blade Runner' soundtrack... but not enough there to piece together why.)

Going back to what I wrote about   and "Stitched Up" which seem to belong to a more up-beat and faster pace compilation record, Same could be said for Track Number 6, "Sister Moon" by Sting. During the 1980’s, Sting and his band "The Police" were a phenomenal sensation, combining Reggae, Jazz and British Alternative Rock into a unique sound that had broad appeal. In the 1990’s and to this day, Sting has several solo-albums that were chart toppers, his albums seemed to continue his tradition of stetting trends rather then following them. "Sister Moon" is no exception, a very unique sounding jazz song with other elements and is a great addition to this compilation album.

Featured on this album is a song with Johnny Lang and Joss Stone (The Blue’s answer to Norah Jones?") is a blend of Southern Blue’s, Soul and Funk, all with a hypnotic guitar rift and beautify heavy piano work. "When Love Comes To Town" tells the story about bad love and being done wrong and one’s inability to stay away, pretty much a quintessential Blues song.

"Don't Explain," by Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan is the perfect soft jazz song, violin and quiet piano and gentle use of percussion with the lyrics practically whispered about either unreciprocated love or love betrayed. I’m not sure what other people think the perfect "break song" is, but this would be it for me… (I wish I made films, just so I could film a scene with two people walking away from each other at a train station at midnight with the rain pouring down… or a candle lit room with the hero putting on his fedora before saying good by. This song involves a lot of image.)

Is there any possibility of making a soul-filled, quiet jazz version of "I just Called To Say I Love You," as good or maybe better then the original version of that song that had been made famous by Stevie Wonder a decade or so earlier? Raul Midon does a great job in making this song his own while Stevie Wonder himself makes a great addition on harmonica after the bridge of this song.

Finally, "Jazz" and "New Age" blend almost perfectly on "Gelo No Montana," with Trey Anastasio. This tune could have been right at home on an album from "Hearts Of Space" album, while is just at much home here… neither complementing or contradicting the other Jazz love (or love gone wrong) songs on this album… it’s still one of those great songs that’s one would want to hear.
"Possibilities" is a great collection of songs but with no particular theme through out the whole album... unless trying to touch on all the sub-genre’s of Jazz and Blues is it. In further listening, it seems as if this one disk was actually two different albums woven together as one. It’s a great disk to give to a new-comer of Jazz because a lot of these songs are familiar, not in the sense that they seem to be recycled from somewhere else but because they are loyal to the sound each one represents. It’s also a great disk for people well accustomed to Jazz and for people who want to listen to these musical artists cross over to the jazz genre.

As I wrote, many of the albums invoke many mental images and moods, which is one of the reasons why I recommend it to Fedora Chronicles readers.

Finally, "Possibilities" is either a great departure from Mr. Hancock's Techno-instrumentals that made him a household word during the 1980's, or "Possibilities" is a return to the genre where he first set down roots. I look forward to seeing what his next solo ventures will take us.

More information on Herbie Hancock and his music can be found on his website.
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Written content copyright Eric "Renderking" Fisk,2005.
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