Most Wanted! Herbie Hancock – Stars In Your Eyes (Columbia)
Like many of his pairs back then (Idris Muhammad, Alphonse Mouzon, Bill Summers…) Herbie Hancock came to blend his Jazz upbringing with Disco, Funk and Electronic vibes.
Hard not to think about the memorable ‘Headhunters’ featuring the seminal ‘Chameleon’ back in 1973. But also of the 1979 released ‘Feets Don’t Fail Me Now’ with cuts such as ‘You Bet Your Love’ or ‘Ready Or Not’. With ‘Monsters’, released the year after, completing the series…
Taken from the latter, ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ definitely counts among the stand out masterpieces from this period. A melllow bouncing jam co-written by Ray Parker, Jr. and Lisa Capuano. The late Gavin Christopher‘s vocal performance enhancing its emotional content.
In the vein of those gems such as Idris Muhammad‘s ‘For Your Love’.
Stars in your eyes. Or should I rather say in your ears… This is most likely what you’re gonna get when givin’ it a listen.
– Born in Chicago, IL in 1940, Herbie Hancock appeared as a child prodigy, starting with a Classic Music education by the age of 7. (*) He played the first movement of Mozart‘s Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537 (Coronation) at the age of 11. This happened at a young people’s concert on Feb. 05, 1952, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (* Wikipedia).
He moved into Jazz during his high-school days, eventually giving birth to his first band before joining Donald Byrd as a pianist. Quite impressed, the latter got his label – Blue Note – to sign him. And by 1962, Hancock released his debut-album – ‘Taking Off’ – which includes the memorable ‘Watermelon Man’. A standard which was also to provide Mongo Santamaria with a hit 12 years later. Meawnhile, the album caught the attention of Miles Davis who recruited him as a member of his Second Great Quintet band.
Herbie Hancock released 7 albums on Blue Note including ‘Maiden Voyage’ in 1965 and ‘The Prisoner’ in 1969. He started venturing with electronic keyboards on his ‘Mwandishi’ album back in 1971. No surprisingly, the latter received mixed reviews. But Hancock, who admitted his inclination for Sly Stone‘s type of Funk, decided to get into groovier territories.
Relocating to Los Angeles, CA, he signed to CBS, forming a new band which he called The Headhunters. Somehow crossing over to Pop audience ‘The Head Hunters’ album kept on receiving criticism from some Jazz fans. And this despite the presence of the influential ‘Chameleon’.
Hancock kept on forward though, eventually going further with the vocoderized 1979 ‘Feets, Don’t Fail Me Now’. An album which features ‘You Bet Your Love’ and ‘Ready Or Not’. Meanwhile, its follow-up – ‘Monsters’ – included the heavily sought after ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ led by the late Gavin Christopher.
Besides, how not to remember his collaboration with the late Alphonse Mouzon? A collab which led to the recording of the ‘By All Means’ album and its memorable title track featuring Lee Ritenour, Freddie Hubbard, Jerry Hey and Paul Jackson.
By 1982, he contributed to Simple Minds‘ ‘New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)’ album, playing a synthesizer solo on ‘Hunter And The Hunted’. He then scored one of his biggest successes the year after with ‘Rockit’, from his ‘Future Shock’ album. It became a worldwide anthem both for the breakdancers and for the hip-hoppers standing as the first mainstream single to feature scratching.
The early 2000’s saw him collaborating with Electronic Music luminaries such as Carl Craig, A Guy Called Gerald and Bill Laswell. This giving birth to his ‘Future To Future’ album back in 2001. Joe Claussell remixing ‘The Essence’ from the latter.
A definitive pioneer, Herbie Hancock also released more traditional pieces in the meantime. Under his own banner as with countless others artists. From Ron Carter to Don Cherry and also Freddie Hubbard. Not to mention John Mayall and Chick Corea to name but a very few.
He has also been quite active on the soundtracks front. Either writing commercials or films OST’s. From the score to Michelangelo Antonioni‘s film ‘Blowup’ in 1966 to the soundtrack to the controversial ‘The Spook Who Sat By the Door’ (1973) among others.
– Gavin Christopher Wright sadly died the day before his 60th Birthday, on Mar. 04, 2016.
The brother of House diva Shawn Christopher, Gavin has (also) shown quite a versatility working with artists from Rufus & Chaka Khan to Grandmaster Flash and also (a young) Mariah Carey back then.
A songwriter, singer, arranger and producer, he has released 4 albums on his own from 1976 until 1988. His biggest classic being ‘One Step Closer To You’ released on Manhattan Records back in 1986.