Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer. As part ofMiles Davis's Second Great Quintet, Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the "post-bop" sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace music synthesizers and funk music (characterized bysyncopated drum beats). Hancock's music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieved success among pop audiences. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. In his jazz improvisation, he possesses a unique creative blend of jazz, blues, and modern classical music, with harmonic stylings much like the styles of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
Hancock's best-known solo works include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man" (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon", and the singles "I Thought It Was You" and "Rockit". His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award afterGetz/Gilberto in 1965.
Hancock practices Nichiren Buddhism and is a member of the Buddhist association Sōka Gakkai International. As part of Hancock's spiritual practice, he recites the Buddhist chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo each day.
On July 22, 2011 at a ceremony in Paris, Hancock was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue. Hancock recently joined the University of California, Los Angeles faculty as a professor in the UCLA music department where he will teach jazz music