Mercury Records hopes “Dis Is Da Drum” will re-establish Herbie Hancock as an innovative musical force, building on the percussive style the jazz keyboardist introduced with 1974’s platinum-certified “Headhunters” and amplified with 1983’s “Future Shock.”
In the top 10 on Billboard’s jazz chart after its release a month ago, Hancock’s “Dis Is Da Drum” - his Mercury debut - fuses African rhythms and hip-hop grooves within traditional jazz arrangements.
“I didn’t want to limit myself,” Hancock says, “so I did a project that encompassed my whole music experience - but also included elements of street-based music.”
Hancock says his last album, “Perfect Machine” on Columbia, was limited in creative scope because of the label’s desire for a commercial set. The album, released in 1988, only managed to reach No. 65 on Billboard’s R&B; albums chart.
Says Hancock: “On my new album, I wanted to examine everything from my past solo projects and allow for breakage of rules that I had adhered to in the past. I also wanted to utilize the acoustic piano because that’s what I do best.”
Hancock’s efforts resulted in numerous elements uncommon for a tenured jazz artist. The 32-year music veteran points to his remake of the 1974 favorite “Butterfly” as an example of his bolder approach.
“On ‘Butterfly,’ the rhythm is broken and then restarted in several places. That’s not normally done,” he says. “Most of the tracks on the album start off pretty conventionally. Then I incorporated various dance elements.”
Other studio enhancements on “Dis Is Da Drum” include backward sounds, swirling effects, and thunder. Hancock also intersperses spoken vocals amid the tracks.