Bringing It All Back Home

Originally posted 23 January 2008.

Herbie Hancock
Sony : 1975

HH, electric piano, clavinet, Arp synthesizer; Bennie Maupin, sax, bass clarinet, flute, percussion; Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, guitar; Paul Jackson, bass; Mike Clark, drums; Bill Summers, congas, percussion.

Flood captures Herbie Hancock’s famed Headhunters band in concert. Recorded live in Tokyo during the summer of 1975, this double album has only been available on CD in Japan. We originally tracked it down because, among some Kozmigroov enthusiasts, it has the reputation of being the last gasp of the Mwandishi aesthetic. To be sure, it’s much wilder than the studio work of the Headhunters ensemble. But we don’t wanna get carried away – this doesn’t begin to scale the electronic futurist peaks of Sextant, Crossings, or Mwandishi. Instead, its best tracks find an interesting common ground between the two modes. Demonstrating that even if Hancock wasn’t going back to the future, he still knew what time it was.

You can best hear this on the (inter)stellar version of “Chameleon.” In Woebot’s recent catch-all jazz survey, he singled the track out: “The awesome version of ‘Chameleon’ throws the tidy version from the Headhunters LP from the bay-door of an orbiting space ship and watches it burn apart in re-entry.” Indeed. Dig how the steady groove gets pulled apart as, at the five minute mark, Hancock starts aggressively spraying electronic graffiti all over the track.

If caught in a particular mood, we channel Herbie’s interior thoughts like so: “Yes, yes, the grooves, the grooves are funky. Yes, those are some tasty bass licks … yeessssss … [five minutes in] … but do not forget, MOFOS, THAT I PLAYED WITH MILES AND WAYNE AND THEM, AND WE WORKED THIS SHIT UPSIDE-DOWN AND SIDEWAYS AND WENT SO DEEP THAT IT FELT LIKE YOUR FRONTAL LOBES HAD SWITCHED PLACES WITH YOUR EARS BLEEAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGG … aaaand: outro.”

Keeping in mind that Miles and them (3.0) had detonated in Japan only half a year earlier, for the epochal Agharta/Pangaea sides. And for whatever it’s worth, those records and Flood share an engineer, one Tomoo Suzuki.

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More Herbiage: For the full report, see this great Herbie Hancock discography site.

Special thanks to Steve Erickson for help with this entry.

Category Headhunters, Herbie Hancock