Herbie Hancock: Actual Proof


Actual Proof


Herbie Hancock (Fender Rhodes, Hohner clavinet, synthesizer)


Thrust (Columbia)

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Herbie Hancock (Fender Rhodes, Hohner clavinet, synthesizer),

Bennie Maupin (flute, sax), Paul Jackson (bass), Mike Clark (drums)


Composed by Herbie Hancock


Recorded: August 1974


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

“Actual Proof” from the record Thrust was very important to me. One thing that I love about it is the way the structure works—there’s a tricky bassline where sometimes you’re not sure where one is, and sometimes the second beat sounds like it’s on one—and how the improvisation works against the structure. As those events happen, the soloist’s challenge is to make sure he’s expressing what the structure is, while also playing through it. Here Mike Clark is really funky, Paul Jackson plays very contrapuntally, and Herbie plays creative, open ideas against that. I also like that it’s an electric piano. Herbie is not only a great acoustic piano player, but also really got the thwack you need to play the different colors that the electric piano brought into the music—and here all those colors are on display. Sometimes he’s playing really complicated lines against the bassline. Other times he’s really funky against the bassline. Other times, he’s sort of playing counter-rhythms against the bassline, which has the effect of taking something that’s displaced and displacing it even further. The whole thing adds up into a really thrilling song. There’s a thrilling version of "Actual Proof” on a record called The Flood, which was a live date made in Japan about a year later with the same rhythm section, but Herbie is playing acoustic. I’ll choose this version, because it’s the first one that came out. I also like that it’s really funky, but once you start to delve into the structure, it’s not just predictable funk. It’s a puzzle to play over, but you’d never know from the ease and grace Herbie expresses when he plays on it. He’s always so rhythmically secure, so that even when things get really tricky, he’s just floating above it and playing the form.

Reviewer: Uri Caine

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