Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Herbie Hancock - 1973-10-01 - Ultrasonic Studios, Hempstead, NY

From the Ultrasonic Archives....

"A concert that will certainly amaze you," says the DJ by way of introducing Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters band, and it's hard not to disagree. Indeed, by late 1973, Hancock had moved on from the Mwandishi band - although it'd still pop up on records now and then - for the slimmed down, harder-edged funk of the Headhunters lineup: Hancock on keyboards, Bennie Maupin on reeds, Paul Jackson on bass and Mike Clark on drums.

As I understand it, this is the first circulating Headhunters show. Which makes it interesting, especially since even right from the get-go, this was a tight, funky band who knew how to work a groove. Indeed, Clark's something of the MVP here, creating a pocket deep enough for everyone to groove into, while still working a few nice fills in here and there. It's also cool for featuring two tracks that would wind up on 1974's Thrust, and not leaning too heavily on either older material or stuff from Headhunters.

And finally, if that's not enough, it's a live broadcast from a predominately rock-focused FM station, too. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say a broadcast like this probably introduced Hancock to a wider audience than he'd been getting with any of his Mwandishi lineups. Which means, I think, it's as good as any place to start with this era of his band. Enjoy!

1. Actual Proof
2. Butterfly
3. Sly
4. Chameleon

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Thomas Bangalter - Spinal Scratch

Here's something a little different. In 1996, with Daft Punk breaking into the dance charts and people from around the world tuning into French house music, the boys at Daft Music started their own record label: Roulé Music. Essentially, it was a place for them to sneak out ideas and experiments, not to mention records from their friends and myriad side projects. Altogether, the label's output was something like 30 releases, almost all of them 12" singles.

Today's share is probably my favourite of them all, or at least in the top five. On "Spinal Scratch," Bangalter works a slight sample, thumb on the turntable style. He slows it down, scratches, breaks the music down to it's components and demonstrates a masterclass in how to stretch a drum machine, a sequencer and a turntable for over seven minutes, barely repeating an idea. It reminds me a little of minimalist classical, in how it's changing textures are the point, not the musical figure itself. But it's also got a hell of a groove.

The B-side, "Spinal Beats," is no slouch either, although with just a drum sample it's arguably even minimaler. More minimal? You know what I mean.

Anyway here's a free idea for Numero, Light in the Attic or whatever reissue label you love the most: release a Roule box set. All these singles had pretty minimal runs, I imagine, and they've been out of print for well over a decade. I do see Stardust's lone single Music Sounds Better With You occasionally, but have yet to run across one of their other releases in the flesh. So please, someone get the rights to this, even if it's just on Bandcamp! Until then, your best bet is Discogs where you can get a copy for about $10

Friday, July 27, 2018

Herbie Hancock - 1973-02-20, Strata Art Gallery, Detroit, MI

Here's a weird one. At some point in February 1973 - this came to me with the date of Feb. 20, 1973, which I'll go with - Herbie Hancock and his Mwandishi band played the Strata Art Gallery in Detroit. That's at least what You'll Know When You Get There by Bob Gluck says. Elsewhere, I can find references to something called the Strate Concert Gallery, which Herbie mentions playing in 1973.

What he also mentions is their soundman, Fundi, made tapes of every gig. Which would explain this concert here: it's a long, nearly three hour set, and has a roomy sound, like an audience tape. But it's hard to imagine a taper having enough space for something of this length! Indeed, the band stretches out on "Hidden Shadows," which was about to be released (but recorded something like a year previous), Bennie Maupin's tune "Quasar," and "Revelation," which would end up on an Eddie Henderson record. So a stage tape sounds about right, and thanks again, Fundi! Did I mention there's some lengthy improvisation, too. It's interesting, heady stuff: a lengthy look at this band in full flight, challenging both themselves and their audience.

1-1 - Hidden Shadows
1-2 - Firewater
2-1 - Revelation
2-2 - You'll Know When You Get There
3-1 - Quasar
3-2 - Improv

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Herbie Hancock - 1972-10-08, Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Detroit, MI

Picking up where I left off...
Baker's Keyboard Lounge advertises itself as the world's oldest jazz club, and hey maybe it is! I don't know. I do know that in 1972, they hosted Herbie Hancock and his Mwandishi band for a gig and part of it's come down to me in today's share.

This one sort of picks up where the last one faded out: with "Sleeping Giant," and lots of hand percussion. From there, they work up a nice groove and Herbie has a nice solo on Pt. 2, and the rest of the band gets some time to shine. Things fade out with some spacy synth playing, which I assume is Hancock (did Patrick Gleeson tour with them?).

Someone left me a comment (thanks again!) comparing it the Art Ensemble of Chicago and that's a very good insight. I hadn't thought of it like that, but yeah, I totally see the connection now. In terms of out-there-ness, parts are not super far removed from some of the Grateful Dead's more weird jams, either. All in all, it's a pretty fascinating show. I assume they played more (although at about an hour, maybe not), and maybe it'll turn up some day!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Herbie Hancock - 1972-03-25, De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Herbie demonstrates a CBS-era Rhodes... while signed to Warner Bros

Here's another nice recording from my collection of Herbie Hancock bootlegs. This one's a radio broadcast from March 1972, and I don't really know too much about this one, especially since Sugarmegs is down at the moment. The announcer introduces them as the Herbie Hancock sextet, which is interesting: I guess they weren't going by Mwandishi quite yet. And the broadcast joins the performance in progress, and I think catches the end of one song most of "Sleeping Giant," but unfortunately it cuts off just as it gets going.

Still, there's quite a nice amount of music here: about half and hour of them working up a deep groove, complete with a lengthy bass solo and lots of percussion. I wonder if the full broadcast exists in a vault somewhere?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Herbie Hancock - 1971-07-21, Nice, France

You'll know it when you get there...

After his run with Miles Davis' live group, and a stint as a bandleader on Blue Note, Herbie Hancock leaned hard into fusion and the sounds of Joe Zawinul and In A Silent Way Davis. Taking a cue from the Swahili word for writer, Hancock adopted the name Mwandishi, which extended to his group: Buster Williams, Bennie Maupin, Billy Hart, Leon Chancler,  Julian Priester and Eddie Henderson. Their music was dark, swirling and took cues from rock instrumentation - note the electric piano - and what Miles was calling "directions in music." There's an interesting similarity here, I think, to the similar dense sounds of early Weather Report, especially in the way things swirl around and slowly build up the tension, giving the band ample space to improvise. I'd argue there's a little more funk in here, but that goes more towards Buster Williams' playing than as a slight to Miroslav Vitous' playing.

I'd have to go through this again to double-check the exact lineup, but I'm reasonably confident that the whole Mwandishi lineup is present on this very nice gig from July, 1971. The sound's as good as you'd want it, and the set is packed with good stuff. Only three tunes - "You'll Know It When You Get There," "Toys," and "Be What," but each is stretched out for about 20 minutes, so there's a lot to take in. Definitely not yhe

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Back on the Saddle (Spring '76)

Old man, look at my jeans
With news that there's (maybe? sort of?) a new (old) Neil Young album on the way, I was reminded of another Young mix I made. This one came after I decided to clean up my hard drive, but couldn't do without any of Young/Crazy Horse's spring 1976 tour.

After all, this was their first tour as a unit - I'm not counting those weird California shows they did in 1975 - and the music is loose, ragged and a lot of fun. And every show has it's moments, but they took up a ton of space. So I took my fave moments, arranged them like a show would've gone, and here ya go: an acoustic set, then a lengthy electric one. I cheated a little, and stuffed it with a little of everything they played - including a super rare version of "Last Trip to Tulsa" which I think they only played once. "Sad Movies," meanwhile, was played a few times and then Young didn't play it again for 30 years. Still hasn't released it, either.

Acoustic Set
01 Tell Me Why (03_08_76 - Fukuoka, Japan)
02 Let It Shine (Osaka 3_6_1976)
03 Cowgirl In The Sand (3_26_1976 - Paris)
04 Sad Movies (1976-03-26, Jaap Edenhal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
05 Mellow My Mind (03_19_76 - Offenbach, Germany)
06 Only Love Can Break Your Heart (3_08_76 - Fukuoka, Japan)
07 Ohio (3_19_76 - Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany)
08 No One Seems To Know (3_11_76 - Tokyo, Japan)
09 Heart of Gold (3_20_76 - Koln, Germany)

Electric Set
01 Country Home (3_23_76 - Paris)
02 Don't Cry No Tears (3_20_76 - Koln, Germany)
03 Down by the River (3_20_76 - Koln, Germany)
04 The Last Trip To Tulsa (3_21_76 - Hamburg, Germany)
05 Lotta Love (3_19_76 - Offenbach, Germany)
06 Like A Hurricane (3_25_76 - Paris)
07 Let It Shine (1976-03-26, Amsterdam, The Netherlands).mp3
08 Barstool Blues (03_19_76 - Offenbach, Germany)
09 Cortez the Killer (3_20_76 - Koln, Germany)
10 Southern Man (3_08_76 - Fukuoka, Japan)
11 Cinnamon Girl (3_26_76 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands)