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Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (200g Analogue Productions) QRP

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It may be that Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters was not so well received by the jazz purists of his time. Nevertheless, it was a commercial and artistic success: it was the first jazz album to reach platinum status and was eventually even included in the archive of culturally especially valuable records by the American Library Of Congress. Even today, Hancock's fusion jazz sounds as fresh and vital as when it was first released. Together with Miles Davis, the pianist and keyboarder had repeatedly expanded the boundaries of the avant-garde, but never before had he allowed himself to produce such a groovy sound as on Head Hunters.

With Head Hunters, Herbie Hancock defined the genre of funk jazz in 1973, bringing together fusion and funk and making the synthesizer finally acceptable in jazz. Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown resonate in the melodies and the rhythms are rooted in Funk, Soul and R'n'B, but the sensitivity comes from Jazz. Hancock on the synthesizer and Bennie Maupin on the saxophone lay effective solos and soundscapes over the rich beats and grooves. After his previously more experimental avant-garde albums, Hancock on Head Hunters made an about-turn towards a grounded and danceable sound that made jazz accessible to a wider audience.

Few artists in the music industry have had more influence on acoustic and electronic jazz and R&B than Herbie Hancock.

In 1963 Miles Davis invited Hancock to join the Miles Davis Quintet. During their five years together, Herbie recorded many classics with the jazz legend, including "ESP", "Nefertiti" and "Sorcerer", and later played on Davis' groundbreaking albums "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew".

Hancock's own solo career thrived on Blue Note, with classic albums such as "Maiden Voyage", "Empyrean Isles" and "Speak Like A Child". After leaving Davis' band, Herbie formed a new band he called The Headhunters and recorded Head Hunters in 1973. This was a key point in Hancock's career, giving him a pioneering role in fusion jazz. Hancock had pushed the boundaries of the avant-garde both on his own albums and with Miles Davis, but never before had he given himself over to the groove as he did on "Head Hunters".

Building heavily on Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, Hancock developed very unconventional, even daring rhythms, which he overdubbed with solos on electric synthesizers, bringing this instrument to the forefront of jazz. The recordings had all the extraordinary sensitivity of jazz, especially when Hancock lost himself in long improvisations, but the rhythms were firmly rooted in funk, soul and R&B, making the record so attractive to a wide audience that it became - until then - the best-selling jazz album (a record that was to be surpassed later).

Jazz purists of course tried to badmouth the experiment at the time, but "Head Hunters" still sounds fresh and vibrant four decades after its initial release, and Hancock's reshaping of the genre has proved enormously influential not only for jazz, but also for funk, soul and hiphop.


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Release details

Label: Analogue Productions, Columbia, Sony Music Commercial Music Group
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Remastered
Units: 1
Country: US
Released: 2015
Genre: Jazz
Style: Fusion, Jazz-Funk


A1 Chameleon
A2 Watermelon Man
B1 Sly
B2 Vein Melter