| Jazz Musician
April 12, 1940
in Chicago, Ill.
Pianist-composer Herbie Hancock played a key role in the evolution of jazz-rock, bringing electronic sounds and an experimental sensibility to the field while maintaining his stature as a creative acoustic pianist. Hancock was a child prodigy, taking up piano at age 7 and playing Mozart with the Chicago Symphony at 11. He released his first album and joined Donald Byrd's group in 1961, and two years later began a memorable five-year term with Miles Davis, during which he began using electric piano. Post-Davis, he moved farther into electronic-spiked fusions with such albums as “Head Hunters” and
the 1983 hit single “Rockit,” and continued the film scoring he had begin with Antonioni's “Blow-Up” in 1966. His 2007 collection of interpretations of Joni Mitchell songs, “River: The Joni Letters,” won the Grammy for album of the year.