O.C. Firm Signs Jazz Great for CD-ROM Series : Computers: Music’s history will be portrayed in discs by Graphix Zone and Herbie Hancock.


Graphix Zone Inc., the multimedia company best known for its interactive disc featuring singer Bob Dylan, said Wednesday that it has signed a deal with legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock to produce a three-part CD-ROM series on the history of jazz.

The four-time Grammy award winner has already been assigned an office at the Irvine company’s headquarters. Hancock, his business partner, musician Joe Manolakakis, and Graphix Zone will develop the CD-ROMs, which are laser discs that produce pictures, words and video images on a computer screen.

Hancock, who majored in both music and electrical engineering in college, says he and Manolakakis chose Graphix Zone because of the company’s recent success with multimedia packages featuring Dylan and the singer formerly known as Prince.


“We saw their Dylan and Prince CD-ROMs and they were simply the best out there,” Hancock, 55, said in a prepared statement.

In six months, Graphix Zone has sold more than 80,000 copies of the Dylan title, “Highway 61 Interactive,” a high-tech stroll through the career, music and lyrics of the folk singer.

The CD-ROM for the former Prince, who legally changed his name to a hybrid female-male symbol that has no translation into the English language, has topped 80,000 in sales in one year. The disc blends Prince trivia, music videos, songs and animation.

The first Hancock and Manolakakis jazz CD-ROM should be available by next July, according to Chuck Cortright, Graphix Zone’s president and chief executive.

“We believe because of the demographics, jazz listeners and CD-ROM users are a very good match,” Cortright said. The core CD-ROM users are 35 to 50 years old and are much more attuned to jazz than alternative rock, he said.

Kip Konwiser, head of business development for Graphix Zone, says CD-ROMs offer an opportunity for the user to interact with technology, unlike a video. For example, the discs produced by Hancock will allow users to choose their favorite images, dialogue and music of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.


“Right now if you go to buy a CD-ROM, there are very few choices other than games or pornography,” Konwiser said. “This disc will get you closer to the music or musicians you appreciate.”

Negotiations with Hancock and Manolakakis began less than a month ago, only days after Konwiser, 32, joined Graphix Zone as head of business development.