Review: Herbie Hancock, ‘The Imagine Project’

Review: Herbie Hancock, ‘The Imagine Project’: Aidin Vaziri | After decades of breaking the rules, Herbie Hancock finally got a little bit of attention from the music industry with his genial 2007 Joni Mitchell tribute album, “River” – only the second jazz recording to ever win the Album of the Year prize at the Grammys. So who can blame the former Miles Davis sideman for simply expanding on the idea with his latest, “The Imagine Project”? With this one, Hancock takes the Santana approach by basically roping in anyone who happened to be walking by the studio for a collaboration: Dave Matthews, Jeff Beck, Los Lobos, Chaka Khan, The Chieftains, Seal, Susan Tedeschi, the list goes on. Together they take on some well-worn songs promoting world peace because, well, why not? Given the circumstances, it shouldn’t really sound as inspired as it does but Hancock’s masterful playing lifts even the most familiar tunes, from his lilting passages on the star-studded reading of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to the slow-percolating funk of Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” which is powered by the dueling voices of John Legend and Pink. Is there anything here on par with even a millisecond of 1965’s classic, “Maiden Voyage”? No, but the album is a testament to Hancock’s enduring talent, and if all goes right his home will be lined with a fresh batch of trophies by this time next year.

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