[ LOOK TO SEE ]
FUSION w/ Herbie Hancock
With Miles on In A Silent Way
welcome to the jungle
• Herbie Hancock
October 13, 1973
Different Fur Trading Co. in
2003, the album was ranked number 498
Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
2007, the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry,
which collects “culturally, historically or aesthetically important” sound recordings from the 20th century.
Rhythm to the Madness
Head Hunters followed a series of experimental albums by Hancock’s sextet: Mwandishi, Crossings, and Sextant, released between 1971 and 1973, a time when Hancock was looking for a new direction in which to take his music:
I began to feel that I had been spending so much time exploring the upper atmosphere of music and the more ethereal kind of far-out spacey stuff. Now there was this need to take some more of the earth and to feel a little more tethered; a connection to the earth. … I was beginning to feel that we (the sextet) were playing this heavy kind of music, and I was tired of everything being heavy. I wanted to play something lighter.
Flood (recorded live in Japan, 1975).
The subsequent albums
Secrets (1976) and
Sunlight (1977), had widely diverging personnel.
The Headhunters, with Hancock featured as a guest soloist, produced a series of funk albums,
Survival of the Fittest (1975) and
Straight from the Gate (1978),
the first, also produced by Hancock, included the big hit “God Make me Funky.”
The image on the album cover, designed by Victor Moscoso, is based on the African kple kple mask of the Baoulé tribe from Ivory Coast. The image is also based on tape head demagnetizers used on reel-to-reel audio tape recording equipment at the time of this recording.
For the new album, Hancock assembled a new band,
The Headhunters, of whom only
Bennie Maupin had been a sextet member.
Hancock handled all synthesizer parts himself (having previously shared these duties with
he decided against the use of guitar
favoring instead the clavinet, one of the defining sounds on the album.
The new band featured a tight rhythm and blues-oriented rhythm section:
Paul Jackson (bass)
Harvey Mason (drums)
A relaxed, funky groove that gave the album an appeal to a far wider audience.
the spearhead of the Jazz-funk style of FUSION.
the album brought rhythm and blues fans to jazz
The album mixes tight, funky rhythms and
extended instrumental sections.
Of the four tracks on the album:
• “Watermelon Man” was the only one not written for the album.
A hit from Hancock’s hard bop days,
originally appearing on his first album Takin’ Off,
it was reworked by Hancock and Mason and has an instantly recognizable intro
featuring Bill Summers blowing into a beer bottle, an imitation of the hindewho,
an instrument of the Mbuti Pygmies of Northeastern Zaire.
The track features heavy use of African percussion.
• “Sly” was dedicated to the pioneering funk musician Sly Stone, leader of Sly and the Family Stone.
• “Chameleon” is a track with an instantly recognizable intro,
played on an early ARP Odyssey synthesizer.
• “Vein Melter” is a slow-burner, predominantly featuring Hancock and Maupin, with Hancock mostly playing a familiar Fender Rhodes electric piano, but occasionally bringing in some more heavily effected synth parts.
Heavily edited versions of “Chameleon” and “Vein Melter” were released as a 45 rpm single.
After its initial release, the album was also mixed into
quadraphonic (4-channel sound)
Released by Columbia in 1974 in the vinyl and 8-track tape formats.
Until George Benson‘s Breezin’ (1976), it was the largest-selling jazz album of all time,
An inspiration not only for jazz musicians, but also to jazz, funk, soul, and hip hop artists.
The Headhunters band (with Mike Clark replacing Harvey Mason)
worked with Hancock on a number of other albums, including