When Jacob Collier completed his debut album a few months ago, the first people to hear the mastered version were his manager and his manager’s pal. The manager is Quincy Jones, and his pal was Herbie Hancock.
“I was excited and terrified in equal measure,” says Collier. “Luckily, within a few seconds, the pair of them were relaxing on the couch, getting into it. Then Herbie started hooting: ‘Oh man! What the hell was that chord? Wind it back!’”
Collier’s music is full of moments that elicit reactions such as this, particularly from musicians. He has recorded dozens of dazzling videos on YouTube: staggeringly complex versions of jazz and soul standards in which he multi-tracks himself singing multiple vocal harmonies and playing multiple instruments. Since posting the first film when he was 17, they have been viewed millions of times, earning him a call from an impressed Jones (who ended up signing him to his management company, Qwest), along with rapturous praise from artists as diverse as Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, kd lang, David Crosby, Raphael Saadiq and Leslie Bricusse.