180-Gram Vinyl, analog mastering, and individually numbered. Featuring Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon, Butch Warren, & Billy Higgins. Takin' Off, his Blue Note debut, is a sophisticated showcase for Hancock's ability as a group leader. Not as intellectually challenging or technically complex as his later recordings, the pianist nevertheless displays a restless imagination and technical verve. When he's not striking off on funky, swinging solos, the backing chords are restrained and unassuming. He's controlling the session and confident enough to let his soloists (Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Dexter Gordon on tenor sax-both in fine, relaxed form) take the spotlight. From the now-legendary hit "Watermelon Man" to the reflective, noir-ish "Alone and I," this is a great first album that foreshadows the greatness that would follow on his Blue Note masterworks, Empyrean Isles, and Maiden Voyage.