CDP 7243 8 37643 2 7 Takin' Off
Produced by Alfred Lion
Released on 1963
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
CDP 7243 8 37643 2 7 cover
[high resolution scan]

D ouble H comes out swinging on his first solo set with a pair of horns (Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon) that any head would envy. This is black-tie-and-jacket jazz, the work of a smart young sophisticate who knows how to mix the urban with the urbane. Yes, this features the classic “Watermelon Man,” with its fun, familiar and insistent form ambling through the decades, ageless. But it’s the cool breeze of Freddie and Dex that lingers in your ears after the disc is done. Their solos, interspersed with Herbie’s handwork, light up a number like “Empty Pockets” or “Driftin’.” The early recordings from HH are conventional by design. He was still young (22), barely out of school, yet to work under that illustrious teacher, Miles, his best work ahead of him. This first album is flawlessly executed, not flashy or brilliant but solid like cool marble. Herbie is capable of grand designs (“The Maze,” “Three Bags Full”), but he’s not one of those mathematical sorts who litters the page with black dots. Songs sway, skip, lilt, curtsey and sit down. For some listeners, hard bop is a history lesson, dry and dull. For others, it’s jazz at its most elevated, cerebral and serene. I personally dig the clean-sounding, crisp execution of Takin’ Off. Hancock’s sense of rhythm is playful, his compositions are smart and sentimental (“Alone And I”), his band comprised of consummate professionals. As the first record from a soon-to-be jazz titan, Takin’ Off launched a brilliant career and grabbed the attention of the jazz establishment with a mature sound that belied its composer’s tender years.

TRACK LISTING

  1. WATERMELON MAN    7:09
  2. THREE BAGS FULL    5:27
  3. EMPTY POCKETS    6:09
  4. THE MAZE    6:45
  5. DRIFTIN'    6:58
  6. ALONE AND I    6:25

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  7. WATERMELON MAN (ALT TAKE)    6:33
  8. THREE BAGS FULL (ALT TAKE)    5:31
  9. EMPTY POCKETS (ALT TAKE)    6:27

    All compositions by Herbie Hancock

CREDITS

HERBIE HANCOCK -- piano
DEXTER GORDON -- tenor sax
BILLY HIGGINS -- drums
FREDDIE HUBBARD -- trumpet
BUTCH WARREN -- bass
Rudy Van Gelder -- engineer
Michael Cuscuna -- 1996 reissue producer
Reid Miles -- cover photo and design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1984 Blue Note LP 84109  
US 1987 Blue Note CDX 46506 w. bonus tracks
US 1996 Blue Note CDX CDP 7243 8 37643 2 7 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
US 2006 Cisco LP CLP-7050 180g vinyl
FRA September 22, 2008 EMI 2CD 5099923615328 repackaged w. CANTALOUPE ISLAND

 

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