Over a storied, seven-decade career in jazz, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock has collected fourteen Grammys and gained praise for his groundbreaking impact on modern jazz, funk, R&B and hip-hop. A 2014 memoir, Possibilities, paints a personable, honest portrait of his come-up in the jazz world – meeting Miles Davis, dealing with addiction, embracing Buddhism – all while eagerly evolving as a musician.
In a reading list for The Week, Hancock shared six books that most inspire him. From Stephen Hawking’s seminal works to the autobiography of Quincy Jones, find his recommendations below. And for a deeper look at Herbie’s creative process – from improv to composition – check out his Masterclass on the art of jazz.
Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter by Michelle Mercer
“Wayne Shorter is a saxophonist, a wonderful composer, a very bright and extremely creative person, and also my best friend. But I didn’t meet him until about 1963, when I was 23 and he was maybe 29. When I read his biography, I got a chance to learn more about his childhood. He and his brother Alan, also a musician, had a kind of rebelliousness when they were young, choosing not to follow the crowd. They showed a great deal of courage early on, even as kids.” -HH
“I’ve had the good fortune to meet President Obama. I believe he’s a compassionate man, and my impression of him is compatible with how he describes the flow of his life from his early childhood.” -HH
The Buddha in Your Mirror by Woody Hochswender, Greg Martin, and Ted Morino
“I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for 41 years now — I follow a school called Nichiren Buddhism, founded by a Japanese monk in the 13th century. I wrote the foreword to this book, a guide to achieving enlightenment. It’s kind of an easy read for non-Buddhists, to provide an understanding of Nichiren principles.” -HH
“I’m interested in cosmology, technology, and science. These books, Hawking’s explanation of the formation of the universe and a series of his lectures at the University of Cambridge, are difficult to get through but well worth it.” -HH
Q by Quincy Jones
“Quincy Jones is also a dear friend of mine, and has been for 50 years, yet I really enjoyed reading about his life and career in his 2002 autobiography. It was Quincy, back in the ’90s, who told me, ‘Herbie, you better start writing your book.’ I hadn’t thought of it, but over the years, I started to think he was right. He made suggestions on how to do it, and he would remind me periodically, ‘Start writing that book!'” -HH
(via The Week)