Possibilities,” is the title of jazz pianist Herbie Hancock’s latest disc, a collection of perfs with more than a dozen musicians known for their pop and rock work. To make the album, which the film chronicles in a way that enhances the album’s recordings, Hancock bounced between assimilator and leader while working with Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Annie Lennox. The film is the portrait of a kind and giving man open to all positive ideas that come his way. Docu is getting a token theatrical run to help hypo imminent release of album and DVD.
“Possibilities” will likely draw in only the most hardcore of Hancock’s fans, and one wonders if there is enough jazz in the film to satiate viewers who associate the master pianist with “Maiden Voyage,” “Canteloupe Island” and Miles Davis’ last great acoustic album. There are some interesting clips from Hancock’s history, but rather than detail specific moments in his life, “Possibilities” concerns itself with what Hancock was learning or thinking at a particular time. In the settings of “Possibilities,” often the most interesting aspects are the conversations about creating.
“The hip stuff is outside the comfort zone,” says Hancock, who pioneered fusion with his Headhunters band in the 1970s and made the quintessential break-dancing record, “Rockit,” in the ’80s. It’s one of his many decrees, most of which seem on the money in his attempt to make each session as good as it can possibly be. (The most musical event of the film may well be his mournful duet with saxophonist Wayne Shorter in Japan.)
With split screens, and a camera that doesn’t budge, creating an interesting p.o.v. on the lead character, “Possibilities,” with its focus on atmosphere over music-making, is keenly limned to go beyond the usual extra found in a CD/DVD package. Ultimately, though, that’s how this pic will be viewed.