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Herbie Hancock - Crossings CD (album) cover

CROSSINGS

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.25 | 226 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars The second "Mwandishi" album is Crossings and comes out in 72 with a stunning "African" artwork (something missing its predecessor), courtesy of Robert Springett (a regular Hancock collab until the end of the 70's) and with an unchanged line-up, but this time a certain Patrick Gleason is adding a whole bunch of electronic "noises" on his Moog and in his Frisco studio, where the album was recorded in March. Gleeson is a university student and one of the first to own a moog and he will persuade Herbie to leave him the master tapes, over which he will add his "noises". Herbie loved it, his bandmates a tad less (one of them apparently said Gleeson's ARP synth sounded like a vacuum cleaner) and the specialized press hated it and shot mercilessly the album in flame, so again it sold too few, partly because the WB label was not a jazz-rock label and didn't push it enough. In the jazz realm, rarely a bigger mistake happened, when Warner got rid of Hancock's contract. Herbie would then leave Frisco and sign with Columbia, the label that Weather Report, Return To Forever, Miles Davis and Mahavishnu orchestra called home. On his second album, Columbia hit the jackpot with Head Hunters.

The Crossings album opens on African drums mixed with electronic space noises that soon evoke the dawn's tropical forest noises, before Hancock slowly invades the aural space just at sunrise. A few minutes later, we're already cooking under the morning sun, as Herbie's piano calms down after a wild solo and the whole tracks hides for shelter. Williams' bass soon picks up the pace, reviving the track with Priester's trombones and Maupin's bass clarinet, then herbie again. A little later, there are more outstanding moments, especially the wild bass/piano exchange around the 13 and 15th minutes. Later on, the track goes a little dissonant under the mid-afternoon torrid heat, an understandable side-effect, but once the cruising speed is reached the tracks spread its wings to full grandeur. A bit later, the tracks dies at sundown in sad brass death throes. So much going on and not a moment of rest that your head might just saturate and the more you listen, the more you hear Gleason's electronics invading the whole album, permeating almost every tracks' moments. The aptly-titled almost 25-mins Sleeping Giant is a monumental Hancock-penned track, probably his best ever, that is clearly THE definitive Mwandishi statement

The flipside features two Maupin-penned tracks that together equal the previous Sleeping Giant, not only in length, but in quality as well. Again starting on electronic noises and percussions, Quasar is soon taken over by Maupin's flute and Williams' dissonant bass. The 7-mins+ track Quasar is a succession of dissonant and harmonic moments, until its dies into Gleason's Black Hole and will not turn into a supernova. Well, something electronic does escape Gleason's Black Hole, and it turns out to be the Maupin-penned 14-mins Water Torture track, where it's hard to guess why Gleason didn't get partial credits for it. Indeed his electronica is all over the track, often answering Maupin and Henderson's wind instruments;

An awesome album, probably my fave (with Sextant as a runner-up), Crossings is IMHO Hancock's apex. In his second album after BB and away from Miles, Herbie manages an album that matches BB's quality. Between BB and some of Floyd's outer space tracks, Crossings is indeed an aptly?titled album, as it represents a crossing point between all kinds of musical directions. Simply astounding

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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