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Herbie Hancock – Flood (Record Store Day Black Friday 2018)

January 13, 2019

This album was originally released in the Japanese market in 1975 as a live double LP. It features Hancock’s Headhunters Band performing selections from the Headhunters, Thrust and Man-Child albumsFlood was recorded in Tokyo Japan at Shibuya Kohkaido and Nakano Sun Plaza (concert halls) in the summer of 1975.

The Headhunters band on this album is: Hancock on various keys, Bennie Maupin on various woodwinds, Phil Jackson on Fender bass, Mike Clark on drums, Bill Summers on congas and percussion and Blackbird McKnight on guitar.

Side one opens with “Maiden Voyage” (a Hancock standard) performed by Hancock on solo acoustic piano. As the song comes to a close the full band joins in without a trace of the funk the Headhunters were known for. The band then segues into “Actual Proof” (from Thrust). Although, this is not the post bop sound of the mid-60s, this is not funk fusion either, it is somewhere in between. For example, Phil Jackson is playing his Fender in a style that is closer to a traditional stand up bass than funk.

Side two is what I was expecting when I dropped the needle on side one: full on jazz funk fusion. “Spank-A-Lee” (from Thrust) opens side two and is a great showcase for the band to show off their chops. “Watermelon Man” (a Hancock jazz standard that was reimagined as funk on the Headhunters album) is faithful to the Headhunters’ studio version – just a touch freer.

Side 3 starts with “Butterfly” (from Thrust).  It is a mellow tune that makes you feel like you are floating (I guess like a butterfly). It is a pretty gorgeous ballad. “Chameleon” (from Headhunters) is a full-out jam. Hancock has a great synth solo that makes you feel like you dropped in on a futuristic sci-fi gun fight.

Side 4 ends the album with the side length track “Hang Up Your Hang Ups” (from Man-Child).  It is not a tune I was familiar with.  It is a twenty-minute funk-jazz jam with plenty of room for the soloists to work their stuff, yet each of the musicians does their part to set a funky rhythmic foundation for their peers to strut on.

Overall, the album has a live, but clean sound. The performances are looser than the studio albums that they come from, but they are not sloppy – they are just more free. These are highly skilled jazz musicians who had been playing together for a while – the definition of tight.

Beyond Hancock’s Headhunters album, I am not that familiar with his mid 70s output. This album has perked my interest and I will be digging into this era of the Hancock catalog.

An eye opener on the album is Bennie Maupin’s playing. I had no idea what a great sax player he is. I have obviously heard him before on various Hancock and Miles releases, but he really stands out on this album.

This has turned out to be my favorite release from Record Store Day Black Friday 2018 and a reminder of what a truly great artist Herbie Hancock is.


From → Music Reviews

  1. Worth it for the cover alone too!

  2. Came back to go over 2018 picks and seen this. What a score. I seen Herbie and the boys right after they released ‘Headhunters'(probablt told you). What a memorable experience. And your right about Bernie Maupin. He hooked up with Miles on Bitches Brew and that time frame. So much of Herbies sound at this time.

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