For Herbie Hancock, 1973’s Headhunters
was a radical change of direction. After recording some very risk-taking fusion for Warner Bros. from 1969-72 with his Sextant, the keyboardist/pianist went for slicker, more accessible jazz-funk instrumentalism on Headhunters
and subsequent Columbia dates like Secrets
and Man Child
(which Mobile Fidelity has reissued as a great-sounding gold audiophile CD). Comparing the Sextant and Hancock’s Headhunters band would be like comparing Miles Davis’ 1956-57 quintet with the cast heard on Bitches Brew
both were appealing, though in very different ways. To be sure, there were those who dismissed Man-Child
, but for all their slickness and commercial appeal, jazz-funk smokers like "Hang Up Your Hang Ups," "The Traitor" and "Steppin’ In It" have a lot of bite. And Hancock gets in some memorable solos, as does Philadelphia saxman/clarinetist Bennie Maupin (who was one of the Headhunters’ strongest assets). Those who like their jazz with lots of funk shouldn’t miss this one.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene , the largest jazz publication in Southern California.