in CAT

C.A.T.: Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

It’s weird how whenever an album leaves your iTunes, it almost ceases to exist.  Or at least that’s what seemed to be the case with Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters, an album that I lost years ago (can’t recall why), but I downloaded it about a month ago and have become reaquainted with its funky greatness ever since.  I can’t say I’m huge jazz-fusion fan, but this is one of those albums that pretty much transcends its genre in creating something truly essential.

By the time of Head Hunters’ release, the fusion movement had fully taken hold of the jazz world, while Herbie Hancock’s sextet had established themselves as one of the more prominent artists in this ever blossoming genre.  However, the sextet’s first few albums that dabbled in fusion where largely experimental, and Head Hunters saw Hancock exploring exploring a more groove-based sound that allowed the album to become one of the most successful jazz-fusion albums ever released.  Throughout the album, the grooves are always super tight while the playing seems effortless, while often bordering on straight-up funk more than jazz.

Of course the stand-out track would have to be the 15-minute jazz-funk staple “Chameleon”, a song that’s filled with a seemingly endless plethora of tasty synth lines, all while bolstered by some tight percussion and that unmistakeable bassline.  The rest of the album has that same deliciously funky sound, while Herbie tries his hand at a number of different synthesizers, as they mesh wonderfully with his always brilliant electric piano work.  Maybe it’s about time I check some more of Herbie Hancock’s work, since this is the only album of his I’ve heard and it’s got to be one of the most badass albums I’ve ever come across.

Favorite Tracks: “Chameleon”, “Watermelon Man”