- Audio CD (16 Oct. 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
- Label: Blue Note
- ASIN: B00004YTWJ
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,578 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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The Prisoner Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
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Top Customer Reviews
Easily one of Herbie's best.
Fantastic arrangements and solo playing, and wonderful sound all-round.
If you like Herbie's Blue Note stuff get this after Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles.
If you like his Warner's stuff you should like this too - no electrics and swings rather than funks/pulses - but lots of space and freedom.
Recorded in 1969, surely a year in which the writing was on the wall for small group acoustic jazz if ever any year was, this set is alive with colours in a way that only someone of Hancock's abilities could conceive. Not for him any of the funky delights that would have been a hallmark of any contemporary Horace Silver small group. Instead there's a pervasive atmosphere which falls into place on the opening "I Have a Dream" (thanks in no small part to Joe Farrell's alto flute and tenor sax contributions) and which differs only by degrees until the music is through.
That's not however to suggest that this is a programme of one-dimensional music. "Firewater" -incidentally the only piece not written by Hancock- is a little more up tempo and thus brighter. Drummer Albert `Tootie' Heath keeps the pots on, while Johnny Coles on flugelhorn shows why he deserves far more posthumous recognition than he ever received in his lifetime.
There's a paradoxical hint of darkness in "Promise of the Sun", an impression aided in no small part by those colours Hancock is obviously so adept at coaxing out of an augmented ensemble.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Nothing really stands out in the band, but that is the point. The music on Prisonor is about layers and layers of clouds. The horns and the panio mesh completely, and you really have to listen, many times. Over these listens, the Prisonor penatrates.
This is also Herbie's darkest. Martan Luther King had just been killed, and no one had the race tiger by the tail. Things were getting increasing militant--understandably so.
It was pretty dark out there in 1969, and the music here personifies this.
After this, Herbie moved to the jubulant funk of Fat Albert Rotunda. As if to prove even potential insurrection would not keep this happy master worried for too long.
combustible energy, and moods that permeated the events and atmosphere that closed out the 1960's. I, too, was there and
went through it like so many others. This recording is a brilliant SOUNDTRACK of those times. In addition to using his working
sextet at that time (with trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone in the horn section), Hancock adds three more (bass trombone,
bass clarinet, and flute) to create a nonet for "The Prisoner" recording. This particular three-horn ensemble had its roots on
Herbie's classic 1968 Blue Note album "Speak Like A Child", which utilized flugelhorn, bass trombone, and alto flute that show
Gil Evans' influence & Herbie's alliance to his superlative orchestral style & arranging. The same sextet that performs on "The
Prisoner" (Joe Henderson on tenor sax, alto flute, Johnny Coles on flugelhorn, Garnett Brown on trombone, Buster Williams on
bass, Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums, & Herbie on piano, electric piano) also made Herbie's most commercial album until then
(later in 1969), "Fat Albert Rotunda", for Warner Bros. Records. The first track on "The Prisoner" is the magnificent, "I Have A
Dream", Hancock's poignant, heartfelt tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, which features marvelous, extended solo's &
work from Coles and Henderson, along with Hancock, himself, on the longest track on the session at almost eleven minutes. I
particularly love how the legendary Rudy Van Gelder recorded the haunting echo of not only the horn ensemble, but also the
soloists on their extended performances. This is simply gorgeous writing by Herbie. I remember the first time I heard "I Have A
Dream", and how it stirred so many evocative images/feelings that reminded me of those times from the 1960's. In particular,
for me, this is my favorite Henderson solo on record - absolutely STUNNING. The title track, "The Prisoner", is featured on an
additional, shorter alternate take, and like "I Have A Dream", evokes powerful themes and images dealing with the struggles &
challenges of African-Americans and the Civil Rights movement so prevalent in the 60's. Joe Henderson, once again, is great
in his soloing here, with very intense, emotional playing expressing the deep problems involved in the long term imprisonment
and struggles of black people; hence, "The Prisoner". "Firewater", from bassist Buster Williams, is the only chart on the album
not written by Hancock, and suggests the social dichotomy of the oppressor and the oppressed. According to the liner notes,
"the fire and water idea symbolizes, for Hancock, the feeling of fire in violence and power play and the feeling of water in Dr.
King." Great solos and work once again from not only Henderson and Coles, but also trombonist Garnett Brown. A second and
longer alternate take of "Firewater" also appears on the cd. "He Who Lives In Fear" finds Hancock using electric piano (as well
as on the title track), and was ORIGINALLY composed for a Silva Thins cigarette commercial, but was re-shaped, re-titled, &
re-created into a totally new piece with a different melody, as well as harmonic structure. The new title is in reference to Dr.
King having to live in the constant danger and turmoil that defined the 1960's, and his challenges with this. The final number,
"Promise Of The Sun", again features fabulous ensemble work from Hancock's group, and represents the sun's promise of life
and freedom for ALL living beings, an optimistic hope for sure, yet one which a great many people do not ever experience. In
addition to the previously mentioned players, the stellar flute master Hubert Laws also plays on several cuts of "The Prisoner"
with important contributions. Produced by pianist Duke Pearson, "The Prisoner" is an extraordinary, contemporary achievement
by Hancock that perfectly expresses the plight and feeling of the modern, urban dilemma in our society, even today. Beautifully
recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, it's a timeless work of art. Concerning "The Prisoner", in 1969, Herbie stated, "Generally speaking,
I've been able to get closer to the real me with this album than on any other previous one." Hancock's next sextet after "The
Prisoner" lineup would take a FAR different direction in 1970, with his mind-blowing "Mwandishi" group in outer space, keeping
only Buster Williams, and replacing all others with Bennie Maupin on reeds & flute, Dr. Eddie Henderson on trumpet & flugelhorn,
Julian Priester on trombone, and Billy Hart on drums. 50 billion stars for "The Prisoner".