Whether it’s the old timey jazz soundtracks of our favorite classic Christmas films, or the cozy feeling you get from cuddling up with a warm cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine in front of the fireplace listening to a relaxing jazz album, many people associate jazz with the holidays. So, it seems a fitting time for us to relaunch one of our most popular events in a new virtual and safe medium.
Welcome to a new biweekly blog series, Picnic Wine & Provisions virtual Jazz Brunch. Every other week, we’ll give you listening recommendations that you can enjoy with us in the safe comfort of your own kitchen. Cook up some biscuits and gravy, or a full English breakfast, grab a mimosa and settle in for some curated jazz music to stave you through the stay-at-home monotony of the pandemic.
What better way to start than with jazz legend Herbie Hancock? A Chicago native, born and raised on the south side, he was called a piano prodigy from a young age, even performing a Mozart concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he was just 11 years old! In his teens he started teaching himself jazz harmony by ear and eventually begged Chris Anderson, another Chicago-native jazz pianist, to take him on as a student. The rest is history; Hancock has released 41 studio albums so far and continues to tour and perform today! (Or as soon as it is safe to do so again.)
This morning we invite you to join us in listening to his first album Takin’ Off. Recorded in 1962 when he was just 22 years old, it is best known for the hit single Watermelon Man, which was named after the local Chicago street vendors in the Hyde Park neighborhood who peddled watermelon and other fruits to passersby.
This album also features one of our favorite jazz trumpeters, Freddie Hubbard, who you can hear shine particularly in his solo on Empty Pockets.
Listen to Herbie Hancock’s album Takin’ Off on Spotify.
If you’re starved for more, check out a track from the album that had Hancock begging Chris Anderson to take him on as a student—here is Love Letters from Anderson’s 1960 album, My Romance.
If you want to learn more about Herbie Hancock, you can listen to a 2014 interview on NPR here, or check out his memoir, Possibilities.