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Takin’ Off was pianist Herbie Hancock’s (born in Chicago on April 12, 1940; he is 79 at this writing) first album under his own name. All of the compositions are by the leader, who is backed by such stars as Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Butch Warren, and Billy Higgins. The album includes one of Hancock’s best-known compositions, “Watermelon Man”, which made it to the Top 100 on the pop charts. The tune would become a jazz standard, after being covered by Mongo Santamaria, among others. Initially, Blue Note producer Alfred Lion had told Hancock that his first studio session as a leader should combine a selection of original compositions and well-known jazz standards. However, after hearing the potential of “Watermelon Man”, the producer urged the pianist to complete the LP with his original tunes. Takin’ Off caught the attention of Miles Davis. Hancock was introduced to Davis by the young drummer Tony Williams. As part of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, Hancock would help to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and incorporate the funk genre into jazz.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, May 28, 1962.