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Takin' Off is the debut album of jazz pianist Herbie Hancock originally released in 1962 for the Blue Note label as BST 84109. The recording session included Freddie Hubbard on trumpetand veteran Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone. The album was a typical hard bop LP, with its characteristic two horns and a rhythm section. The bluesy single "Watermelon Man" made it to the Top 100 of the pop charts, and went on to become a jazz standard. The album has been called "one of the most accomplished and stunning debuts in the annals of jazz." It was released on CD in 1996 with three alternate takes and then remastered in 2007 by Van Gelder. The 2007 edition features new liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.

Notes about the tracksEdit

All the following statements were made by Hancock himself during an interview; they can be found in the liner notes of the CD booklet.

About "Watermelon Man": "In reflecting on my childhood, I recalled the cry of the watermelon man making his rounds through the back streets and alleys of Chicago's south side. The wheels of his wagon beat out the rhythm on the cobblestones."

On "Three Bags Full": "Each of the three soloists plays out of a different bag. Also, this is a line from "Baa Baa Black Sheep" that makes you think of a shepherd, and in a way, the tune does have something of the sound of a shepherd maybe way off in Baghdad or somewhere."

On "Empty Pockets": "I was in a sad financial state when I wrote this".

On "The Maze": "The tune seems to go along the bent paths of a maze, to which the final solution is never reached - notice that the performance does not have a real tonic ending."

"Alone and I": "I am very much interested in chord color in music, and this tune displays much of what I have been working on in that vein." Hancock considered this piece the most interesting tune in the album and that it included his best solo.

Track listingEdit

All compositions by Herbie Hancock.

  1. "Watermelon Man" – 7:09
  2. "Three Bags Full" – 5:27
  3. "Empty Pockets" – 6:09
  4. "The Maze" – 6:45
  5. "Driftin'" – 6:58
  6. "Alone and I" – 6:25

Bonus tracks on reissue:

  1. "Watermelon Man" (Alternate take) – 6:33
  2. "Three Bags Full" (Alternate take) – 5:31
  3. "Empty Pockets" (Alternate take) – 6:27

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