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Herbie Hancock - Mwandishi CD (album) cover


Herbie Hancock


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.10 | 82 ratings

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4 stars Mwandishi is the first in a series of three albums that form the pinnacle of fusion in the 70's for me. There are few other bands that managed to combine their dazzling musical talent with such an innovative force, such deep atmospherics and emotive improvisations. Mwandishi is the most 'traditional' (very relative here) of the three albums and picks up the fusion trail where Miles Davis had left it on Bitches Brew.

The album takes its 'progressive' approach very literally, starting fairly accessibly and ending with totally abstract fusion. The first track we get is the catchy Ostinato, the most straightforward and traditional track, traditional meaning that it is an improvised jam around a repeated bass line. The main 'riff' is remarkable for having such an odd metre while still being very groovy. It's quite entrancing but a bit too lengthy to keep my attention for 13 minutes.

The album takes another leap forward with the looser and more atmospheric improvisation of You'll Know When You Get There. Compared to the opener, the melodies have become slower and vaguer, which obviously makes them more difficult to hang on to and which makes the music shift from melodic to abstract. It's a dreamy and evocative piece of music and my favourite of the album. Sure recommended to fans of Davis' In A Silent Way and the early Weather Report albums.

The progressive journey ends with the very abstract free-jazz of Wandering Spirit Song, a dazzling piece of music that sets your spirit really wandering indeed. There are few repetitions and melodies which makes it almost impossible to grasp, but somehow I love getting lost in this music that makes my analytic mind fail and allows my intuition to take over and drift along with the spontaneous evolution of the music.

The best Hancock work was still to come, but Mwandishi is sure an interesting place to start exploring his progressive fusion.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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