For almost five decades, Herbie Hancock has provided listeners with a wide variety of traditional and experimental jazz records. With 46 studio albums, 12 Grammy Awards (including the award for Best Album for 2008’s River: The Joni Letters) and one Oscar under his belt, there is very little the iconic pianist and composer has left to accomplish.
Therefore, it is always interesting to see what route Hancock plans on taking with each project. Since his 1962 debut, Takin’ Off, he has written and recorded everything from jazz standards to electronic and hip-hop based instrumentals.
For his newest record, The Imagine Project, Hancock decided to go a route similar to that of his last two albums. For 2005’s Possibilities, he recruited John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon and Trey Anastasio, among others, to cover a range of popular R&B and rock hits. In 2008, he invited singers like Leonard Cohen, Tina Turner and Norah Jones to cover songs by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell on River: The Joni Letters.
On 22 June, Hancock’s Imagine sees him collaborating with more contemporary artists, including John Legend, Pink and Dave Matthews. On the record’s opening track, a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine, Pink, India.Arie, Jeff Beck and Seal join Hancock for a jazzed up version of the 1971 tune. Matthews shows up later to help out on another Lennon-penned tune, 1966’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”, off the Beatles’ Revolver.
The album is currently streaming on NPR.