One of the most open-eared and forward-thinking jazz musicians of his day, Hancock has, more than just about anyone else, consistently tried to broaden the music's horizons by mixing it with the most interesting elements of contemporary pop. Hancock has consistently pushed the envelope, from his earliest days with Miles Davis to his jazz-rock fusion of the early '70s and his early embrace of synthesizers and electronic instruments, his early-'80s experiments with hip-hop and sampling, or more recently, his acoustic piano reinterpretations of songs--the new standards, in his parlance--by everyone from Don Henley to Nirvana.
Limited Millennium Edition. Packed in a Heavy Weight Card Wallet that Faithfully Recreates the Original Vinyl Sleeve, Right Down to the Inner Bag. The Wallet Comes in a Plastic Cover.
Keyboardist Herbie Hancock''s remarkable career took a surprising turn with this funk album--one of the first jazz albums to be certified gold. Hancock''s already-storied career had included an extended tenure with Miles Davis as a member of both the classic quintet of the ''60s and the trumpeter''s groundbreaking electric dates. As a leader, the pianist had followed a similar course, cutting both outstanding acoustic dates (Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles) and experimental electric sessions (Sextant, Crossings).
Head Hunters, however, was something different: a stripped-down date featuring reedman Bennie Maupin as the only horn player, and a funk-oriented rhythm section made up of Paul Jackson, Harvey Mason, and Bill Summers. Hancock traded in his sophisticated piano performances and complex compositions for simple melodies, slow-burn funk grooves, and light electric keyboard splashes. The results, particularly on the tracks "Chameleon" and "Watermelon Man," had a profound impact on other musicians, although critics charged Hancock with playing to the galleries. But the album has stood the test of time--something neither the wealth of Hancock''s imitators nor his own subsequent albums in this vein have been able to do. --Fred Goodman
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