I wish I could transform all that is about to be written in this opening sentence, all the conjunctions, articles, commas, verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and all the punctuated spaces in between
, into the thumping kicks, tight snare drum hits, complex hi-hat patterns, and crunchy synth work which unite in the driving funk rhythm at the opening of Chameleon
, the first track on Herbie Hancock’s
extra awesome Head Hunters
album. If such a typosonic transformation were possible, another sentence would be unnecessary, as you would already be in the know.
This blurb is for the reader who is not in the know, and upon hearing the name Herbie Hancock says to themselves, “Herbie Hancock, the jazz piano guy? Whatever.” And then brushes aside, as you would an unexpectedly large amount of dandruff, the possibility that an on-point shit storm of funkiness might be waiting on Head Hunters. Perhaps you don’t like jazz in general (I hear you, fuck jazz in general) or perhaps specifically dislike jazz piano because you think it is a wimpy jazz instrument, like a Wayne Gretzky or a Hunter S. Thompson, had they been jazz instruments. I hear that too, and Herbie hears that. That’s why instead of making some la-di-da twiddly jazz album he made this rnb-jazz fusion funkapiece.
While there is the occasional Rhodes piano and a bit of soul jazz cheese, most of the album has Herbie punching out roots in the ground hooks and wild improvisations on a crunchy and heavily effected ARP analogue synthesizer. The album’s lack of twinkling pianos mixed with the tight Afro Cuban laced rhythmic mania of Bill Summers and the compositional genius that Herbie brings to all the tracks, is why you need to spend a few minutes preparing to illegally download this early seventies classic. Because Head Hunters is not a jazz piano album, it's not a ‘no checking please’ Wayne Gretzky with his hands insured at Llyods of London, it’s pre Philadelphia Eric Lindros in the junior As, seventeen and toothless, breaking collar bones while maintaining possession and then firing a wrist shot from the blue line that most goalies, loathing fractures, wisely avoided. Nor is Head Hunters a cynical writer hiding behind cocaine and alcohol, paid by publishers to concoct fabrications for the taboo junkies of a self absorbed counter culture, Head Hunters is if anything, an honest example of early seventies mainstream jazz fusion funk gold, and as honest as the Marquis de Sade, quill and ink bouncing on a rocking wooden table, composing then performing 120 days of Sodom in Bastille Saint-Antoine with assholes up to his eyebrows on the eve of the French Revolution, in the thick of it and completely sober. It is four unique tracks of jazzfusion which come together to move and soothe and better you and it is the best selling jazz album of all time1. Note it.
1 Some say it's Kind of Blue.