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Herbie Hancock - The Herbie Hancock Group: Head Hunters CD (album) cover

THE HERBIE HANCOCK GROUP: HEAD HUNTERS

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.89 | 212 ratings

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ProgressiveAttic
3 stars Funky addiction!

Hancock, after ten albums with Miles Davies, started the 70's with his own complex avant fusion experimentations. After the release of three such works, he found himself intellectually tired and not very successful financially. So, he decided to experiment with a more accessible sound and being a fan of funk music, he recruited a new band "The Head Hunters" and started to experiment by combining jazz, rock and funk. As a result, the band generated a series of albums with funk leanings, being this one the first.

This album achieved every single one of the goals proposed: the music is so accessible that could appeal to non jazz enthusiasts, while at the same time Hancock's usual audience would find it highly enjoyable (although this album was highly criticized); the musical styles blended marvelously; and this was Herbie's first smashing sales success.

The entire album is driven by the impressive, sometimes intricate and funky rhythm section, while the melodic elements develop from its foundation. African percussions appear throughout the album to give even a more interesting rhythmic flavor to the musical mix. Everything is spiced up by the melodic predominance of Hancock's wide array of keyboards (being the Fender Rhodes electric piano the predominant) and the sporadic appearance of brass instruments.

Chamaleon is, in my opinion, the most interesting track in the album. It opens the album as an introduction to what will come next, driven by the funky rhythms and highlighting the bass work, while it builds up into a jam session with lots of soloing, improvisation and a very tasteful selection of keyboard sounds to create a background (besides the outstanding Fender Rhodes solo).

Watermelon Man continues the funky feeling and rhythm, this time joined by an African approach to the music. More amusing Fender Rhodes interventions, combined with a very extensive use of the sax and some bizarre flutes used as both intro and outro to the piece.

Sly represents one of the most experimental sections of the album, here we have a glimpse of Miles Davies' approach added to the funky rhythms and some jamming in the vein of Chamaleon. After some landscapes as an introduction , the sax takes the predominant role for about half of the track to produce one of its most impressive participations on the album, to be replaced by Hancock's schizoid electric piano playing for the rest of the piece. The sax and electric piano performances are very wild and show the great amount of virtuosity of the musicians involved.

Vein Melter is a slow, "spacey" piece featuring more electric piano, some brass and a less dynamic/more laid back rhythm section. And to please the mellotron enthusiasts in this site, we have brief appearances of this highly regarded instrument.

The highlights of Head Hunters are, first of all, the bass and percussions. Next we have the more than tasteful keyboard work of Hancock, and we cannot neglect the amusing brass appearances.

This one as a funk or funk-jazz album deserves 5 stars, but as a progressive rock or fusion album we have to reconsider.

Total: 3.45

3 stars for a great (but not excellent), adventurous, highly addictive, never dull and innovative work. A bit raw and definitively far away from the best in terms of writing skills and final output. Nonetheless, this is one of the most enjoyable 3 star albums ever.

ProgressiveAttic | 3/5 |

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