Personnel: Herbie Hancock (acoustic & electric pianos); Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone, alto flute); Johnny Coles (flugelhorn); Garnett Brown (trombone); Tony Studd, Jack Jeffers (bass trombone); Jerome Richardson (flute, bass clarinet); Hubert Laws (flute); Romeo Penque (bass clarinet); Buster Williams (bass); Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums).
Producer: Duke Pearson.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 18, 21 & 23, 1969. Originally released on Blue Note (84321). Includes liner notes by Herb Wong and Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Rudy Van Gelder (2000, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey).
This is part of the Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
Personnel: Herbie Hancock (vocals, piano, electric piano); Oren Waters (vocals); Jerome Richardson (flute, bass clarinet); Joe Henderson (flute, tenor saxophone); Hubert Laws (flute); Romeo Penque (bass clarinet); Johnny Coles (trumpet, flugelhorn); Garnett Brown (trombone); Jack Jeffers, Tony Studd (bass trombone); Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums).
There is no mistaking the influence of the great Gil Evans on Herbie Hancock's THE PRISONER. The dark textures, the creative voicings, and the way in which Hancock assembles his arrangements are evocative of Evans' work with the pianist's former boss, Miles Davis. However, Hancock does more than pay homage here, as he exercises yet another aspect of his exceptional musicianship and applies it to the large ensemble format he had begun to approach on his previous date, SPEAK LIKE A CHILD.
THE PRISONER is significant for other reasons; for one, it was recorded at the beginning of a great upheaval in jazz, when the form incorporated the adoption of electric instruments and rock-influenced rhythms in a move towards the fusion of the '70s. Yet, although Hancock uses an electric piano on some pieces, the session is mostly a performance of beautifully crafted acoustic chamber music with a significant undercurrent of swing. The date also marked the end of Hancock's association with Blue Note, the label that had launched his solo career. Subsequently the pianist would move into the full flow of '70s fusion.