Possibilities

Studio Album by released in 2005
Possibilities's tracklist:
Stitched Up (feat. John Mayer)
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Safiatou (feat. Santana & Angelique Kidjo)
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I Do It for Your Love (feat. Paul Simon)
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Hush, Hush, Hush (feat. Annie Lennox)
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Sister Moon (feat. Sting)
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Don't Explain (feat. Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan)
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I Just Called to Say I Love You (feat. Raul Midon)
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Gelo Na Montanha - 1st Movement (feat. Trey Anastasio)
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Possibilities review

Herbie Hancock has played with some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century during a storied career that has spanned five decades. The A-list features such names as Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Michael Brecker. Now the acclaimed pianist/keyboardist/composer attempts to balance the scales in the pop world with the release of Possibilities. It's a natural successor to such Grammy-dominating, multi-platinum efforts as Carlos Santana's Supernatural and Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company. The thing is it's better than either of those records. Possibilities was built by Hancock from the ground floor up by enlisting a group of singer/songwriters – some older, some younger; some established, some up and coming – as the spirit moved him over a lengthy period of time. This isn't a case of Hancock and rhythm section bringing some singers to a session; instead, Hancock went from place to place, going where the music was, rather than bringing it to him. Possibilities has a sound that's as diverse as its guests, and with Hancock in a truly collaborative mode, it sounds unlike anything he has done before.

The tracks range from guitarist/vocalist John Mayer's funky Stitched Up to the Latino Safiatou, featuring guitarist Carlos Santana and singer Angelique Kidjo; Paul Simon's dark-hued I Do It For Your Love; and the uplifting and rootsy reworking of U2's When Love Comes to Town, featuring guitarist/vocalist Jonny Lang and singer Joss Stone. Certainly some songs lean closer to a jazz aesthetic. The shuffle of Sting's Sister Moon gets a groove-heavy reworking, but its rhythmic displacement is innovative in its own way. Irish singers Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan deliver a spare and melancholy version of Don't Explain, owing nothing and everything to Billie Holiday. Annie Lennox's version of Paula Cole's AIDS-awareness ballad Hush, Hush, Hush is remarkable for its subtle power, while ex-Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio's gentle and largely instrumental collaboration with Hancock, Gelo Na Montanha, demonstrates a breadth that will surprise even the most committed Phishheads. In an album full of bright lights, the true highlight to be found on Possibilities is Christina Aguilera's head-spinning take on A Song for You.

Possibilities is a multigenerational masterpiece. Session musicians here include everyone from Stevie Wonder (who plays the harmonica solo on the cover of his tune I Just Called to Say I Love You), to Santana to Cyro Baptista, Willie Weeks, John Pattitucci, Steven Jordan, and Gina Gershon (the actress)! The arrangements, the playing, the vocals, the bands, the overall spirit - this is tuly a transcendent album. One can only marvel at Herbie Hancock's genius ability to blend with younger artists and stay true to his own monsterously sensitive talent too. Despite some sterling solos, at no point on his album does Hancock hog the spotlight, proving that, as ever, his musical vision transcends both ego and boundaries. For those who only know him from "Rockit," this sensational album should be a truly eye-opening experience.