I wonder if it bugs Herbie Hancock to be most famous in some circles for “Rockit” which, while a fun 80s tune, was hardly a masterpiece. Personally, I much prefer his earlier jazz stuff, in particular the EP Canteloupe Island. Anyway, here’s the intro to Wired’s interview:
Musician and composer Herbie Hancock’s career has careened from straight jazz to experimental electronic music over the decades, with his surprise 1983 break-dancing hit, “Rockit,” helping set the stage for hip-hop.
And while Hancock’s embrace of the experimental put him at the forefront of the digital music revolution — “I’m one of the people who really pushed musicians toward embracing the technology,” he says — he doesn’t let his gear obsession get in the way of a good song.
While I wouldn’t even remotely compare my musical ability to Hancock’s, I think he makes a great point regarding gear getting in the way. As someone who loves gadgets, it’s really easy to be tempted by the enormous array of musical devices and technology that are available today. And while technology can certainly enhance creativity, it’s also certainly true that it’s easy to get distracted by the “blinky lights” aspect of technology, and forget that for a composer, the technology should be in service of the music, not the other way around. Of course, a similar point could be made about computers, applications, and users, something that developers in particular need to keep in mind.
Oh, and I’d also recommend the Ken Burns Jazz Hancock compilation for those interested in his work. I have several of the compilations, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, and they’re all excellent.