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Herbie Hancock - Sextant CD (album) cover

SEXTANT

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 123 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Sextant was Hancock's last album with the Mwandishi lineup. It fuses the sounds of the future with the sounds of the past in an innovative way, experimenting with the media of newer technology over an older canvas, as it were. Sextant is an interesting experience, but not necessarily always an enjoyable one.

"Rain Dance" The first piece melds bleeps, bloops, pings, nasally whines, and various electronic fare with more traditional jazz tones, including upright bass, fluid drumming, and an electric piano on lead. Synthesizer pioneer Dr. Patrick Gleeson offers an exhibition of the ARP 2600. It is noteworthy that this semi-modular analog subtractive audio synthesizer was used to create the voice of R2-D2 from the Star Wars films- one can imagine the droid serenading his robotic lover on some faraway cyber-planet. Hancock's Rhodes playing is a highlight, but I think it is Buster Williams's swampy acoustic bass work that stands out most- certainly not my favorite bassist by a long shot, but his eccentric approach is at home in this piece. Despite the use of electronics, the music has a somewhat organic feel- it is an exercise in the fusion of the natural and the synthetic.

"Hidden Shadows" Underneath a laidback funk groove, Hancock delivers some gentle Mellotron and a few other tricks, tossing in a combination of lounge jazz piano and classical runs. The brass is a wonderful aspect, keeping the whirlwind on a stable course with a striking main theme.

"Hornets" The freest and funkiest of the pieces is also the lengthiest one. Unfortunately, it is also the weakest. The individual players shine, but as just that- individuals. Collectively, they sound a mess, and the kazoo is more of a fitting distraction than anything, if that makes any sense at all. The brass, electric piano, and clavinet are highlights, livening up a simple fuzzy bass riff, but overall the music feels like fresh compositional ideas were lacking, and so jam band territory was unavoidable.

Epignosis | 3/5 |

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