Herbie Hancock's star-studded The Imagine Project was several years in the making, recorded in seven countries with musicians from all over the globe. Hancock's band with producer/bassist Larry Klein, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acu¤a, and guitarist Lionel Loueke is a common denominator. Most selections are interpretations of well-known pop, folk, and soul songs. The best things here are indeed fine. There's a gorgeous reading of Baden Powell's "Tempo de Amore" thanks to Lucas Martins' bassline and C‚U's singing. "Space Captain" by the Derek Trucks-Susan Tedeschi Band --with Hancock and Colaiuta -- brings out a much-needed soulful grit to Tedeschi's vocals, gospelized four-party harmony, and tough slide playing by Trucks. Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a Changin'," with Lisa Hannigan's raw, emotive vocals, is underscored by interplay between the Chieftains and Toumani Diabat‚'s kora and Hancock's piano. The tune actually moves past its American folk revival beginnings to reflect a worldwide sentiment. "Tamatant Tilay"/"Exodus" pairs the nomad Malian guitar band Tinariwen's song with Bob Marley's classic. Hancock's trio, K'NAAN, Tinariwen, and three members of Los Lobos are all featured on vocals. Tinariwen dominates with Hancock's funky clavinet pushing against their snaky wall of guitars and ululating singing; it's the hippest track here. Klein's "The Song Goes On" features Anoushka Shankar, Wayne Shorter, Chaka Khan, and K.S. Chithra with some lyrics translated into Hindi for the Indian vocalists. A full-on Indian session band interacts with Shorter's knotty soprano sax, and the only truly engaged Hancock piano playing on the set. ~ Thom Jurek
Entertainment Weekly (p.71) - "His take on Bob Marley's 'Exodus' -- featuring K'naan and Los Lobos -- is a truly global trip." -- Grade: B+
JazzTimes (p.54) - "When everything clicks, it's a heady mix, as evidenced by the album-closing 'The Song Goes On'....This is a recoding truly worthy of Hancock's expressive skills and imagination."
Billboard (p.36) - "Hancock holds his own as a visionary and pianist, playing just enough to be present but also serving as a gracious host to his distinguished guests."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.105) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Hancock manages to unite a raft of disparate musical and cultural elements into something resembling a cohesive and harmonious whole."