At age 21, Herbie Hancock was already a mature and well-travelled musician. He played Mozart with the Chicago Symphony at age 11 and by age 20 with Donald Byrd. Takin' Off, his Blue Note debut, is a sophisticated showcase of Hancock's ability as a group leader.
When he is not striking off the funky, swinging solos, the backing chords are restrained and unassuming. He is controlling the session and confident enough to let his soloists, Freddie Hubbard on the trumpet and Dexter Gordon on the tenor sax, take the spotlight. This is an excellent first album that foreshadows the greatness that would follow on his later Blue Note masterworks.
Pressed on 180 gram vinyl for reduced resonances, less chance of warping and increased musicality, this is a true audiophile record welcome in anyone's home collection.