My blog will eventually cover music and other creative paths with as much passion as what I currently place on the news or social topics of the day.
A step toward this goal will be to publish weekly bits which will highlight one or two albums I’ve been playing during the past week. I don’t want you to think these posts are formal album reviews—those will happen later. You will observe over time that my album selections will be all over the place. I’ll get into why the title started at 0057 instead of 0001 some other time…
Herbie Hancock’s mid-1970s American releases may have given you the impression that the Brother gave up traditional Jazz for its chart-chasing electric variant, but his Flood album—a 1975 Japan-only release of two live performances—would deliver a small surprise.
looking at the track list and then checking the lineup—Mike Clark on drums; Paul Jackson on bass; Bennie Maupin on reeds; Bill Summers on percussion; and future Parliament-Funkadelic member Blackbyrd McKnight on guitar—made me wonder: “Headhunters doing ‘Maiden Voyage’? No, wait—Blackbyrd and Summers doing ‘Maiden Voyage’? I have to hear this…”
Well, the culture clash didn’t go down exactly as I expected, but the album delivers strong music. Think of the set as an in-performance compilation of Hancock’s three major Jazz Funk albums of that time—Headhunters, Man-Child and Thrust.
“Maiden Voyage” and “Actual Proof” followed the more conventional Acoustic Jazz route, with the former showcasing a more stripped-down version than what you would have heard during Hancock’s Blue Note years. Maupin’s flute helps to place an ethereal lens on the track. You’re in for a treat if you’ve never heard the acoustic version of “Actual Proof,” where Hancock’s aggressive chops are enabled by a smoking hot rhythm section in Chambers and Clark. Blackbyrd and Summers are effectively on the sidelines for these two tracks.
The rest of the album leans toward Hancock’s electric side, and starts with a take on “Spank-a-Lee” that sounds more like uptempo Fusion when compared to the slower, simmering-to-a-boil Jazz Funk version you would hear on Thrust. Once again, Clark sets a bountiful table of rhythms for the band to play with. I especially like how the tune allowed Maupin to showcase his funky side. I was disappointed that Blackbyrd was relegated to an awkward background status and didn’t get the space and time to open up for one or two solo jaunts, plus the version of “Chameleon” sounded a bit too gadget-driven for my taste. However, the nearly 20-minute “Hang up your Hang-ups” is worth a listen…
WHERE WILL WE GO, PT. 2 (EP)
No number of accompanying instruments can shake my impression that Nick Hakim is on an emotional solo journey with his Where Will We Go, Pt. 2 EP release. The Indie Pop vibe is clearly present, but so are are the Gospel-soaked grievings of a departed love in “I Don’t Know,” the clear Blues influence in “Heaven,” and the Soul chord progressions plus more Gospel in the form of convincing organ stretches in “Sleep.” Hakim’s on-point guitar playing understands the difference between a whisper and a shout—as well as the timing for using both…