Herbie Hancock — Crossings
(Warner Bros 9362-47542-2, 1972/2001, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, Published 2017-11-02
I spent some time last year going through The Complete Columbia Albums Collection of Herbie Hancock. I bought it hoping that there would be some gems I didn't know about after Man-Child and ended up being vastly disappointed. I'm still not sure if most of these 70s and 80s works were quite bad, ill-advised attempts to marry innovation and popularity, or just way over my head. So it has been a bit of a relief to turn back to the man's early electric period where his finest work was accomplished. This period is perhaps a bit veiled from history as Hancock and his bands (Mwandishi here) were performing live and improvising considerably and so the albums of the time tend to be distillations of that work. Through this period he transitioned out of his early Blue Note jazz works, started doing soundtrack work, and crossed over into electric jazz, basically along the same time period of his mentor Miles Davis. He did the funky Fat Albert Rotunda, which was largely shorter, more focused pieces but started shifting more radically into free electric jazz with the Mwandishi album and then finishing up his early period on Warner by releasing the masterpiece known as Crossings. To this day I think Crossings is an unusual work, almost hard to grasp at times, for this write up I played it twice to get a bit more of a grip on it. I found strangely enough that a lot of this work seemed to parallel Soft Machine and Nucleus with an electric jazz that had a lot of more composed moments and quite a bit of twisting and turning. This music on his live parallel stretched out a bit more (“Water Torture” in particular), but the studio recordings had an almost fragile feel as if Herbie hadn't quite charted out his path yet outside of what Miles was doing. Crossings ends up being a really dense work, perhaps dominated by the great “Sleeping Giant” suite, a title fairly amusing when you think what woke up next. He may have not completely left the shadow of Miles Davis behind here but he was about to.
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more