Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American jazz pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer, and occasional actor. Hancock started his career with trumpeter Donald Byrd’s group. He shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet, where he helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound. In the 1970s, Hancock experimented with jazz fusion, funk, and electro styles, utilizing a wide array of synthesizers and electronics. It was during this period that he released perhaps his best-known and most influential album, Head Hunters.
Hancock's best-known compositions include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man", "Maiden Voyage" and "Chameleon", all of which are jazz standards. During the 1980s, he enjoyed a hit single with the electronic instrumental "Rockit", a collaboration with bassist/producer Bill Laswell. His 2007 Joni Mitchell tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album to win the award after Getz/Gilberto in 1965.
Since 2012, Hancock has served as a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He is also the chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (formerly known as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz until 2019).
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