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Herbie Hancock - Sextant CD (album) cover

SEXTANT

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 125 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The last album by Herbie's Sextant is a mixed bag, excellent in some parts, less so in others. The album opens with Rain Dance. This song is all about 7th member Patrick Gleeson and his Arp sequencer. Patrick sets up some killer old school analog synth sequences that sound like an African take on early electronic composer Morton Subotnik. The band interacts some, but much of this track is all syncopated electronics. I'm sure the sections where the drums interact with the sequencer are a prize find for many an acid jazz DJ. Because of it's analog textures and early synthesizer technology, this track also has an almost kitsch 'futuristic'/retro appeal to it. Definitely something to put on when you are trying to show off your most unique tracks to your music collecting friends.

The following track, Hidden Shadows is a real psychedelic gem. The band hit's a slow odd metered groove that has the bass clarinet doubling the deep wah wah bass line. Over this Herbie layers psychotic 'classical' piano, sweeping Mellotrons, synth noises and orchestrated horn lines that recall Herbie's late 60s impressionistic lounge jazz.

On side two though, the band begins to lose their way. The lengthy improvisation Hornets makes up all of this side and it is your standard psychedelic free rock-jazz work out that was common with people who had spent time playing with Miles. This would be just fine, but the usually brilliant Bennie Maupin decides he is going to play the part of the 'hornet' and begins to jam furiously on the 'Hum-a-Zoo' ie a kazoo. He only lets up for a few minutes towards the end of the side when Hancock plays an amazing ultra-aggressive keyboard solo switching between electronically processed clavinet and electric piano and is building things to a peak when all of a sudden someone leaves the screen door open and here comes that damn hornet again.

Side one of this album features The Sextant's usual brilliant mix of electronics, uniquely orchestrated horns, modern composition and vast psychedelic soundscapes, but side two is just annoying, unless you like kazoos.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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