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The Wire

Herbie Hancock Vinyl Classics Remastered At Bernie’s

Grundman Used Original Stereo Masters Herbie Hancock in his private studio, 1990. Photo by David Goggin. Bernie Grundman has remastered all LPs in the new “VMP Anthology: The Story of Herbie Hancock”, an 8 album, 11 LP set curated by Vinyl Me, Please and Herbie Hancock himself to celebrate his 80th birthday and his more […]

Grundman Used Original Stereo Masters

Herbie Hancock in his private studio, 1990. Photo by David Goggin.

Bernie Grundman has remastered all LPs in the new “VMP Anthology: The Story of Herbie Hancock”, an 8 album, 11 LP set curated by Vinyl Me, Please and Herbie Hancock himself to celebrate his 80th birthday and his more than 60 years of altering the landscape of jazz. Grundman originally mastered a number of the the original releases, including 1973’s breakthrough “Headhunters”, and the 2016 Grammy Album of the Year, “River: The Joni Letters”.

Grundman recalls the original “Head Hunters” 1973 mastering sessions, “When they brought that in, I was working at A&M at the time, running their mastering department. Well, that record was shockingly different from what I expected a Herbie Hancock album to be. His approach was different from just about anything I had heard before. Herbie modernized jazz pop music and because of the mentality that he has and that he put into that, it makes it even more interesting. It had a lot more depth than most records I had heard up to that time. It stood out as being really unique. It wasn’t derivative, or copying what was out at the time. He did something that could communicate with a much broader listening public.”

The new box set includes albums from every major era of Hancock’s career –from his early albums as a bandleader to his later fusions of jazz with funk and hip-hop, and his Grammy-winning work from the ’00s. The eight albums were picked by Herbie to represent his varied body of work. Packaged in an exclusively designed box, the albums were remastered by Bernie Grundman from the highest quality original audio sources available (most of the albums are AAA). The box set will allow fans of Herbie, and people just getting into jazz, to appreciate his impact on music history in these eight albums. As with past Anthologies, this comes packaged with access to an exclusive podcast series featuring interviews with Herbie himself, his collaborators, Bernie Grundman, and those he inspired.

Grundman originally mastered Hancock’s “River: The Joni Letters” in 2007 and was in the audience when the album got the Grammy for Album of the Year. “Herbie was widely known as a jazz artist and had notoriety in the mainstream music world,” Grundman recalls. “But it was still a shock when he won up against rock bands and pop stars. He certainly deserved it, there’s no question of that. The musicianship that he has contributed to the music world is endless.”

The lacquers were cut from the original masters by Bernie and LPs were pressed on high-quality 180g black vinyl and housed in heavyweight tip-on jackets.

“There is a certain kind of mastering mentality that you get into when you know eight very different recordings will be all together in a box set. There are certain consistencies that you try to hold onto, except that they are all separate albums. They’re still separate albums, they’re just in a box. You can’t really make them all sound exactly the same, but you can prepare the masters in such a way that you bring all your experience in, to make the collection have a spectral balance.”

The Herbie Hancock heavyweight two-piece slip and slash box is hand-numbered, with original design by Clay Conder. First Edition, limited to 1500.

“There’s quite a range there,” Grundman concludes. One album is all solo piano. And then there are albums that are more produced, and have more things going on, so they don’t have the same kind of presence. From that standpoint, it’s a matter of basically, fundamentally optimizing how people are going to experience each album and the message that each album has.”

All eight titles in this VMP Anthology had lacquers cut by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, CA. Takin’ Off, Maiden Voyage, Head Hunters, The Piano and Future Shock were cut AAA from analog tapes. 1+1, and The River, which were recorded digitally, and Live Under the Sky – which has been resequenced at Herbie’s request – come from master digital audio. The albums were plated at RTI, and pressed at GZ on black 180g vinyl.

“Listeners might be playing one album after the other, so you want to make it so that you could almost do it as a playlist,” says Grundman. “You could play one and then put another one on and you won’t have to fiddle around with all your bass and treble and whatever, and your volume control.”

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VMP (Vinyl Me, Please) exists to create a deeper connection to music for all. We are storytellers, curators & a community who understand the impact a great album can have on someone. And, we are firm believers that vinyl is the best medium for creating these experiences. We’re fascinated by the long (sometimes grueling) journey a record takes by the time it’s in your hands – from artist to studio to pressing plant, and beyond. Because of our dedication to the process and the people behind it, we put tremendous effort into building relationships and always work with partners whose expertise, knowledge, skill and passion allow us to deliver the best product we can. We take time getting to know the stories behind every record, listening to test pressings and reviewing art before production even begins. We don’t just do this because it’s our job – we do it because we absolutely love vinyl and all that goes into it. Our mission is what compels us to celebrate and champion the culture, history and art of great albums. We would never expect you to love everything that we release, but we promise you’ll find something here that is new to you and deepens your relationship with music.

The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood is a complex of six studios, including dedicated 5.1 Surround and Lacquer Cutting rooms. Virtually any analog or digital format can be played back thanks to a deep inventory of modern and legacy equipment. The facility provides high quality vinyl masters, pre-masters for CD, and file masters for standard and high-resolution digital distribution and streaming.