Guitarist Lionel Loueke has reinterpreted the music of his long-time mentor Herbie Hancock for his new studio album.
Simply titled HH, the 14-track album features fresh takes on Hancock works including Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man and Rock It, along with some more obscure tunes that Loueke has come to know very well.
It’s a highly personal project for Loueke, who has a long relationship with the piano legend. In 2001, he was selected by Hancock, Terence Blanchard and Wayne Shorter for a spot at the famed Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (now known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz). A few years later, Loueke appeared on Hancock’s albums Possibilities (2006) and River: The Joni Letters (2007), helping to kickstart his recording career.
“I have been playing with the master Herbie Hancock for more than 15 years, and still it wasn’t easy to work on his music because the originals are already so beautiful and he keeps developing them every time we play on stage,” says Loueke. “The challenge was to put my own imprints on these masterpieces, to rethink them with my touch on it. He is my mentor and I feel very lucky to be part of his musical journey. It’s a gift to learn that much from him — humanly, spiritually and musically speaking.”
Ahead of HH‘s release, Loueke shared a video for Canataloupe Island.
Over the last two decades, Loueke has played on nearly 50 albums as a sideman for Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Angelique Kidjo, Kenny Barron, Norah Jones, Charlie Haden, Esperanza Spalding, Kendrick Scott, Avishai Cohen, Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner and countless others.
Meanwhile, he has recorded 11 previous albums of his own, including a major-label run of four records with Blue Note. His 2008 effort Karibu featured guest performances by Hancock and Shorter.
Loueke’s last project as a leader was The Journey in 2018.
HH was recorded by Stefano Amerio in Cavalicco, Italy, in February of 2019.
The new album is out Oct. 16 via Edition Records.