Herbie Hancock goes global for "The Imagine Project"

Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:55pm EDT
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By Jill Jacobs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Even after a career spanning five decades, jazz legend Herbie Hancock shows no signs of slowing down as he releases a new album of world music with a wide group of collaborators, from sitar player Anoushka Shankar to pop singer Pink.

"The Imagine Project," which lands in record stores and on music websites this week, is the 12-time Grammy Award winner's record of duets sung in seven different countries on five continents that aims to send a message of "peace through global collaboration," Hancock said.

"I definitely wanted to make a global record," said the 70-year-old pianist and composer, who hopes his new project will help bridge cultural gaps. "In order for it to be truly global it had to be recorded in different languages, so I tried to record in as many different countries...as I could."

He also filmed the project for an accompanying documentary that shows him working with Pink, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, John Legend, Chaka Khan, The Chieftains, Wayne Shorter, Dave Matthews, and Anoushka Shankar.

While the concept and vision for the album were Hancock's, he said he was not familiar with all the artists so he relied on his producer, Larry Klein, who knew the other performers' songs and lyrics.

"I conceived the idea, did the research, played the music, but Larry was a huge help in forming a firm foundation even before we got into the music itself," Hancock said.

The title track for "The Imagine Project" pairs pop rocker Pink with soul singer, Seal, and Pink also teams up with R&B singer John Legend to offer a haunting rendition of Peter Gabriel's hit "Don't Give Up."

R&B artist India.Arie delivers an uplifting interpretation of John Lennon's 1971 ballad, "Imagine" with a festive, Caribbean-like feel, and bluesy wife-husband duo, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, give a spirited, gritty performance of Joe Cocker's "Space Captain."   Continued...