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on 12 March 2017
Excellent
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on 1 November 1999
This R'n'B-influenced first album of Hancock's is great if you are the mood for some fairly laid back jazz. Bop fans will be let down by the fairly simple chord voicings and lack of substitutions by the soloists. However, this is brilliant if you want to trace Hancock's development towards Headhunters (a decade later); especially comparing Watermelon Man on both albums. It is also a real confidence booster for jazz composers who feel they need to write complex, thick-textured pieces but can't quite get the feel - dig this and you'll feel you can get there soon! The only problem with this CD version is that you get the bonus tracks - it kind of spoils the magic of the solos when you hear how close the two versions sound! But, this is not to the discredit of the amazing jazz artistes present for the set. To conclude, I'd get this CD if you want to hear the development of Hancock or if you want simple, earthy music with not overly flashy solos. Personally, though my money's on Headhunters!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 August 2013
This was pianist/composer Herbie Hancock's debut as leader recorded for BLUE NOTE in New Jersey on May 28, 1962 with a quintet including Dexter Gordon(tenor sax); Freddie Hubbard(trumpet & flugelhorn); Butch Warren(bass) & Billy Higgins(drums).
Everyone is in superb form on six varied Hancock originals(plus three alternative takes) and the highlights include the original version of Watermelon Man(2 takes), the ballad 'Alone and I' and 'The Maze'.
'Takin' Off' is one of Herbie Hancock's finest albums containing almost an hour of inventive hard bop which still sounds fresh over 50 years later.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 August 2014
Takin' Off was Herbie Hancock's first recording as leader at the age of twenty two. The story was that he wanted to record a trio album (by the way a message for Mr Cross, another reviewer on this site: the original album was "short" because vinyl LPs had a running time of up to 40 minutes, not the eighty of modern CDs...and some CDs are definitely too long containing too much "filling"...quantity is not necessarily better than quality) but Blue Note insisted that he recorded as a quintet with two "names"; hence the presence of Dexter Gordon and Freddie Hubbard.
There are six tracks (plus on the CD three "alternate takes") starting with the masterpiece "Watermelon Man", a piece of jazz-funk that has become synonymous with Herbie Hancock. Blue Note were probably right to insist on the addition of tenor and trumpet since the tunes work better in quintet being essentially hard bop tunes which were in vogue during 1962 (think Adderley or Silver).
Needless to say the musicianship of Gordon and Hubbard is outstanding, but young Hancock meets them on equal terms despite his inexperience.
Many think that one would have this in their collection as an historical "document"; I disagree. This is a fine album under any circumstances that maintains a high standard throughout.
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on 3 August 2013
I should have paid more attention - whilst this is nice and cheap and the sound quality is OK, it's a cheapo from Hallmark, not the original from Blue Note. So you don't get any liner notes and more importantly, you don't get track timings, which I personally find invaluable.
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on 19 September 2007
This is the RVG remaster of Herbies debut album as bandleader - at the age of 22 !!

The album opens with arguably the most famous of the great mans recordings and there is also an alternate take for real afficiandos !

By any standards this is a classic album with Freddie Hubbard on sparkling form, Dexter Gordon on tenor sax, a great rhythm section and brilliant arrangements.

The remarkable thing about this debut recording is the story behind it - Hancock grew up in Chicago where his extraordinary talent was recognised with a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11 - his first paid gig was with Coleman Hawkins in Chicago and his second was with Donald Byrd in New York and at the time of this recording Herbie was still at college !!

Perhaps that explains why at less than 40 minutes the original album was a bit brief - Herbie had to get his homework done !

3 alternate takes - remarkably similar to the originals stretch this recording out to 57 minutes - but every moment is a landmark in jazz and launched the career of one of the all time greats.
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on 20 February 2015
The music on this is terrific. But be warned that this version - produced NOT by Blue Note but by something called Hallmark - comes with not a single word by way of notes. The 4-page booklet has a picture on the front (not as on the original album - my fault, I suppose: it should have caused me to pause and think), a list of the tracks on the back, and, in the middle, pictures of the covers of 32 other albums (mostly old pop stuff). Very poor show. I think that jazz fans want a much better product than this. I certainly do.
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on 28 December 2016
Michael Brecker & Roy Hargrove?
Were they even born when this recording was made?
Someone needs to do their homework!
Five stars for Herbie.
Mystified.
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on 18 February 2015
Herb is a special player, this is an old album but still stands the test of time,his team of players are always top drawer
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on 16 November 2014
yup he was nineteen it started from there
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