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Takin Off Import

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, May 28, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

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In some respects Herbie Hancock's first recording as a leader typifies the hard-bop/funk of many late-'50s/early-'60s Blue Note productions (notably Horace Silver's tight-knit group). At the same time, Hancock's lyrical bent and pliable comping point toward the greater abstraction and open-ended, chamber dimensions to come. Blue Note's splendid remastering brings the underrated bassist Butch Warren's bedrock sonority into focus, while Dexter Gordon's laconic virility meshes surprisingly well with the pianist's quicksilver palette. And for those who want to hear the original, unadulterated version of Hancock's earliest signature composition "Watermelon Man," look no further. The disc is rounded out by additional, previously unissued alternate takes. --Jed Distler
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 28, 1996)
  • Original Release Date: 1962
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: EMI Europe Generic
  • ASIN: B000005H3A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,475 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Jazz can be a very personal or subjective form of music. To me Takin' Off by Herbie Hancock is one of the best examples of early 1960's music. Other jazz classics of this time period are generally driven by the trumpet and alto sax. Takin' Off features no less than Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon, Butch Warren, and Billy Higgins. But it is Hancock who is in charge of tempo and mood.
The result is an album of grace, character and soul. Watermelon Man, Empty Pockets and Driftin' are Hancock classics but all six original songs and the three alternate takes are first rate.
All of this was done by Hancock at age 22. No wonder he was able to easily move on to other, more understated forms of Jazz so easily (Maiden Voyage).
Takin' Off is very underrated and a worthy addition to any collection.
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Format: Audio CD
With the personnel on this recording I can't imagine it not satisfying the needs of any jazz listener.
"Takin' Off" makes a big addition to a well-seasoned jazz collection or a great starting-point for those just starting off.
The natural sound of the horns and the rhythm section together makes this one of my favorite acoustic jazz albums of all time. Freddie Hubbard is nothing short of perfect. His clean sound and virtuosity blend perfectly with Dexter Gordon, Herbie, and the rest of the gang.
I highly recommend "Takin' Off" for anyone. It is accessible to those who may have limited interest in jazz yet complex enough to keep jazz enthusiasts engaged.
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Format: Audio CD
This is Herbie Hancock's first recording as a leader and it is impressive to say the least. From "Watermelon Man" to the alternate take of "Empty Pockets", Hancock shows listeners why he is considered one of the giants of Jazz. He shows his unique style on this 1962 album (CD), and just to think, he just got started! In a few years, he would join Miles Davis and become a member of one of the most famous quintets in Jazz History. It is easily apparent to see why Miles Davis was impressed with Hancock, and that itself was a difficult task, since Davis was very selective in who he wanted in his group. "Watermelon Man" is a selection that is just as fresh today as when it was first recorded 38 years ago, and the other works on this album (CD) are just as outstanding.
Highly recommended to all Jazz enthusiasts, it is well worth 5 stars (and more).
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Format: Audio CD
In the last year or so, I've truly come to appreciate the second great miles davis quintet: Miles, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. During that time, I've also come to appreciate early acoustic Herbie Hancock. If it were not for records like TAKIN OFF and MAIDEN VOYAGE, I sincerely believe there never would have been great albums like E.S.P., MILES SMILES, or NEFERTITI. TAKIN OFF really cooks.

TAKIN OFF is Hancock's first solo effort, and a strong one at that. The lineup is pretty impressive with Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Butch Warren (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums). I always thought Gordon was a much better sax player than George Coleman, who appears on MAIDEN VOYAGE, and would have liked to have seen him fill that role.

This record opens up with the popular 'Watermelon Man' which would appear again many years later on HEADHUNTERS, sounding completely different. I actually consider this to be one of the weaker tracks. Next is 'Three Bags Full' which has a beautifully phrased trumpet solo from Hubbard. The interplay between Herbie and the Gordon/Hubbard combination reminds me at times of hearing Coltrane playing with Thelonius Monk. Gordon also shines on this track, sounding comfortable in the setting, with a wonderful solo leading up to Herbie's moment in the sun.

My favorite track is 'Empty Pockets' which open up with Herbie playing the main theme followed by Gordon and Hubbard joining in a few measures later. Every few measures or so, the time doubles and swings for a few moments. The first soloist to follow is Hubbard over the main theme, with Gordon later on. This tracks swings hard at times, and is one of my favorite acoustic Herbie moments.
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Format: Audio CD
While not quite a classic, Herbie's debut is still solid post-bop, even though there were better albums on the way. The bluesy, laid-back "Watermelon Man" has since become a jazz standard, and it's an unforgettable composition, though I think the Headhunters version is a little bit better myself. Most the rest of the album is in the same vein, but it's a good vein to be in, and besides, Herbie gets some solid compositions riding that groove - "Three Bags Full", "Empty Pockets", and "Driftin'" aren't groundbreaking, but they're plenty solid. "The Maze" is the record's other huge high point, an unforgettably eccentric melody, great post-bop groove, and a top-notch trumpet solo. The lone ballad, "Alone and I", is beautifully desolate. And Herbie knows exactly what he's doing here, never overstepping his bounds and taking things into experimental territory. It's good because it makes the record a ton more competent, but it also works against the record in a way, because my favorite Hancock album (Empyrean Isles) is incredibly experimental itself. Still, you can't blame a guy for playing it straight on his first record, and besides, Herbie does a good job of it. Later Hancock albums may overshadow it, but you shouldn't overlook Takin' Off just because of that.
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