Friday, June 18, 2010

Hancock summons music stars, placidness on "Imagine"

Herbie Hancock - "The Imagine Project"
Herbie Hancock Records
-out June 21
3 / 5

Herbie Hancock is a veritable jazz god. There is no overstatement on our part; "Maiden Voyage," "Head Hunters," "Takin' Off," "The Joni Letters": there is no dearth of creativity in the man. His pinky could probably quash us with its wink. But on this latest effort, spangled with stars from diverse genres of music (Pink, Los Lobos, Dave Matthews), there's a lack of challenge, and a bit of tameness has crept in. "Space Captain," featuring Susan Tedeschi, feels a bit flat for Hancock and Tedeschi, and there is little interplay between them. To make a point, "An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea" demonstrates how two musicians interact, challenge each other, even spar a bit, and while Hancock may no longer be a spry youth, he feels like the backing band to the other performers. "Tomorrow Never Knows" also suffers from this, though the title track is solid. Overall, this project, as well-intentioned as it feels, simply lacks a little magic, and could belong easily in a Starbucks display; good for the album, but not for jazz aficionados. Take a pass.

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