Cha Cha 2000


Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto
Love, Love
ECM : 1974

JP, trombone, horns, whistle flute, percussion, synth; Pat Gleeson, synths; Hadley Caliman, flute, saxophones, bass clarinet; Bayette Umbra Zindinko, piano, clavinette; Bill Connors, guitar; Ron McClure, bass; Kamau Eric Gravatt, drums, conga.

In some alternate universe, Herbie Hancock doesn’t break up his great Mwandishi ensemble after the epochal Sextant is released. He doesn’t have a crisis of faith about making “heavy musical trips that try to expand people’s minds” and decide he’s better off “making people feel like getting up in the morning and going to work.” So then what does he do for an encore?

It’s only natural that Hancock wasn’t eager to repeat the intricately layered and visionary sonic assault of Sextant. That album was achieved at tremendous effort and cost. But it is surprising that his reaction to birthing his most accomplished music was to turn around and make Headhunters. We’re not knocking that fine party (and get up and go to work) album. But we’ve always wondered what Hancock might’ve done if he hadn’t jettisoned Mwandishi’s electronics and future grooves altogether, but tried to fashion them into a (slightly) more friendly format.

The answer is something very close to Julian Priester’s Love, Love. Although Hancock doesn’t appear on the album, his spirit guides the efforts of his former Mwandishi cohorts. After a brief ambient prologue, the song kicks in with a pulsing lock-groove that marries disco fluidity and the Kraut Rock motorik beat. It’s reminiscent of the music that La Dusseldorf would make later in the 70s. As the song progresses, Dr. Gleeson adds a sharp, tactile electronic sheen atop the groove. The sax and horns shave off a series of alternately sweet and thorny notes. Guitarist Bill Connors calmly shreads his way through the funky burble. It lasts 20 minutes – but play it twice, and you’ll swear it’s half as long. Dig the sweet ending, too, as synthy strings make the new old again.

Another alternate history sees this material developing into a rich if secondary strain of electro-jazz. Instead, the trail runs cold until twenty-plus years later, when the likes of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher pick up the thread. And start to inspire forward-looking jazz musicians like Matthew Shipp, Supersilent, Nils Petter Molaever, et cetera.

For more Mwandishi, see Eddie Henderson’s Realization and Inside/Out releases - which are basically band recordings with Herbie sitting in as sideman. Terrific stuff, but surprisingly not as far-reaching as Priester’s efforts here.

Love, Love was recently reissued by ECM as a German import. It’s well worth your hard-earned cash to hear the rest of the album. Buy it here.

Category Julian Priester

6 Responses to Cha Cha 2000

  1. Ah, but neither disco nor Dinger ever grooved to a 15/8 pulse!

    Henderson’s Realization and Inside Out remain in highest regard but I’d agree that Priester went further with the Mwandishi concept– that is without abandoning it altogether (eg. Bennie Maupin’s Jewel In The Lotus, itself of similar era and players, is often invoked in these comparisons but it’s clearly a different beast. In light of this, it’s interesting how he was the only other Mwandishi member to be carried forward to Headhunters.)

  2. I remember an interview (it was that duel interview with Wynton, I believe), in which Herbie said that the reason for Headhunters was that he’d heard Sly Stone, and realized that it was a type of music that he was unable to play correctly. SBasic funk was a technical challenge for him. But, of course, I prefer the Mwandishi band, too.

  3. I get a page not found error when clicking on the mp3 link for this song.

  4. Karlos – Sorry about that! Not sure what happened there. I just fixed the link. Try again and let us know if you have trouble again.

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