Herbie Hancock- The Imagine Project

‘A brotherhood of man, imagine all the people sharing all the world’- Lyrics from John Lennon’s famous song ‘Imagine’. Inspired by Lennon, Herbie Hancock’s 2010 album ‘The Imagine Project’ features covers of many inspirational peace and love songs sung by many popular pop, soul and rock stars of the 21st century. Hancock is known for making jazz and any other kind of music blend and very well at that. It is one to look forward to listening to.

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By Dineo Mokwena

It may be a little different for a jazz musician to collaborate with pop stars but Chicago born Herbie Hancock does it well. He was on the cutting edge of techno/electronica with Future Shock (Columbia 1983) and more recently, Possibilities (Hear Music, 2005). Possibilities enlisted artists such as Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon and Sting for a pop album that still kept its jazz undertone.

His most recent album, The Imagine Project, is a 21st century peace and love album.

The Rolling Stone magazine has labelled ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon as one of the top songs of all time, sitting at number three. This song has been covered by more 140 artists after Lennon’s death. One of the most notable covers of the song is on Herbie Hancock’s album, The Imagine Project.

The Imagine Project includes an extraordinary lineup of international musicians from all parts of the world. The artists include Dave Matthews, Anoushka Shankar, Jeff Beck, The Chieftains, John Legend, India Arie, Seal, P!NK, Juanes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Chaka Khan, K’Naan, Wayne Shorter, James Morrison, and Lisa Hannigan amongst others. 

The album is accompanied by a film that shows the process of how the album was recorded. The album and film stand as a powerful tribute for the goals of world peace, humanity and tolerance, and respect for the world we live in. The album is very entertaining and is creatively and emotionally deeply fulfilling.

Specifically, the song ‘Imagine’ was inspired by a Congolese group called Konono Nº1. The song features P!NK, Seal, India Arie, Jeff Beck, Konono N°1, & Oumou Sangare. This time around the song was produced with a twist. When listening to this song you can’t help but dance a little and feel so much more inspired to do something about world peace. With a mix of jazz and African music, it is hard not to enjoy.

Don’t Give Up, originally performed by Peter Gabriel, is another song in the albums track list. It is beautifully sung by P!NK and John Legend. The song was written in the 1980s about the devastation of economic hardship, with the support and wise counsel sung by Bush in the refrain.

James Morrison’s cover of A Change Is Gonna Come is also a soulful jazz mix. The song is originally sung by Sam Cooke and also features on the top 500 songs of all time.

The whole album is a blend of every musical genre but definitely does not over power Hancock’s jazz influence. The album is only successful because of Hancock’s understanding of where diverse musical genres intersect.

Track Listing: Imagine (with Seal, Pink, Konono No l, Jeff Beck, Oumou Sangare, India.Arie, Lionel Loueke and Marcus Miller); Don’t Give Up (with Pink and John Legend); Tempo De Amor (with Céu); Space Captain (Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi); The Times, They Are A’ Changin’ (The Chieftains, Toumani Diabeté, Lionel Loueke and Lisa Hannigan); La Tierra (with Juanes); Tamatant Tilay / Exodus (Tinariwen and Los Lobos); Tomorrow Never Knows (with Dave Matthews); A Change is Gonna Come (with James Morrison); The Song Goes On (with Anoushka Shankar, Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter).

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