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Herbie Hancock

Herbie's Back

HerbieHerbie Hancock has a long history of exploring beyond jazz parameters, beginning with his 1973 electric-funk album "Head Hunters" and his 1983 MTV-friendly, techno-funk single "Rockit" from "Future Shock." But with the release of his new album, "Possibilities," Hancock ups the crossover ante. The 10-track set features the 65-year-old pianist collaborating with young stars (Mayer, Aguilera, Raul Midon and Joss Stone) and veterans (Sting, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox and Santana).

"They brought what they do to the table, and I brought what I do to the table," Hancock says. "The result is a music that allows us to all go outside the pigeonholes the music business forces us to stay in. We're breaking down expectations, walking the tightrope while not scaring our fan bases away."

The CD, jointly issued by Hear Music, Vector Recordings and Hancock Music, will be launched this week at retail and Starbucks locations. It comes one year after Concord Records and the coffee chain's Hear imprint issued Ray Charles' massively successful, posthumous album "Genius Loves Company."

Hancock is fully aware of the comparisons likely to be made, especially with the Starbucks connection and the duets. "But this represents a different way of collaboration than Ray's album," he says. "We were composing on the fly in many instances, improvising new songs and coming up with different arrangements of other songs. We pretty much recorded all the sessions with the artists and a full rhythm section and did only a minimum of overdubs. We played together with a spirit of 'anything is possible.'"