Herbie Hancock – “Driftin'”

Herbie Hancock (Photo: Blue Note Records/Francis Wolff)

Keyboard legend Herbie Hancock kicked off his wildly successful recording career on this day (May 28) in 1962 with the release of his debut album as a leader, Takin’ Off. Recorded in Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and released on Blue Note Records, the album served as the world’s introduction to Hancock’s vigorously soulful style and minimalist, melody-driven comping. Featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Dexter Gordon on sax, Butch Warren on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, Takin’ Off was a showcase for some of the best jazz talent of the era, and included some musical gems — such as “Watermelon Man” and today’s Song of the Day, “Driftin'” — that would go on to become jazz standards.

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