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Herbie Hancock - Headhunters RIAA Certified Platinum! Click here to see this CD at!

By Fred Goodman

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.

By Chip Stern

Keyboardist-composer Herbie Hancock's initial forays as a leader into the brave new world of electric jazz were basically thinly veiled extensions of the cutting-edge ensemble work of the '60s. Despite the external electronic and instrumental trappings of rock and funk, early Weather Report and Mwandishi ensembles were essentially loud modern jazz bands, and over time, when Zawinul and Hancock decided they really wanted to play funk, they had to recruit musicians who had authentic roots in that genre. Thus for Hancock, reedman Bennie Maupin was the only holdover from his previous band, and in Fender bassist Paul Jackson, percussionist Bill Summers, and drummer Harvey Mason, he got a band who could throw down dance rhythms with the funky Úlan of the JBs, while negotiating the more elusive harmonies and jazzy undertones of "Watermelon Man." Still, despite the Headhunters' indisputable depth of groove on their infectious hit "Chameleon," Hancock's harmonic range and use of electronic colors mark him as a thorough-going jazzman to the very core of his being. Yet in the band's collective approach to the slick changes of an arrangement such as "Sly," the roots of an authentic jazz-funk style were indeed germinated.

1. Chameleon3. Sly
2. Watermelon Man4. Vein Melter


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"This album I believe is still very much on the cutting edge today as it was when it was recorded. One could only wish that the music world would listen and break the mold a bit more.

*****5 stars--D.L."


"Headhunters, my favorite album of all time. My first taste of this gem was in 1975 when my best friend got married. Headhunters on vinyl was my best man gift and I thought it was a little cheap on his part. Little did I know that I would wear out half a dozen vinyl copies, aquire it on cd, again on a remastered cd, and now on Super Audio. The best possible gift. Funky, timeless, a true classic. Watermelon Man, in 7. 1 surround with two subwoofers is hypnotic. Today in 2004 I have introduced Headhunters to some younger friends in their 20's who love it and have purchased copies for themselves. This 4 tune masterpiece takes me on a rollercoaster ride giving me strength, making me sad, happy and triumphant, all while giving me that jive smile I get when cranking up one of the true gems of music in my life. Herbie, you da man!"


Looking for a rare import-only single, a gold record, world tour book, hard to find magazine, an autographed guitar, or simply this CD? You'll find them at eBay!



Artist: Herbie Hancock

Released: October 13, 1974

Availability: CD, Vinyl

Awards:  Platinum

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