March 1998

Herbie Hancock
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab

If nothing else, the awesome roster of talent that passed through Miles Davis' latter bands is notable for the stunning diversity of it's post-Miles work: While his contemporaries indulged in everything from futuristic soul jazz to thunderous post-Hendrix bio-blasts, Herbie Hancock rode electric avenue straight into beat street, with a series of discs that seem more relevant each year. 1975's Manchild (Mobile Fidelity/ Sony/Columbia, UDCD 706 45:18), like its predecessor Headhunters, and the following year's Secrets was not just a showcase for Hancock's stellar groovemeistering, but an object lesson for anyone searching for the sweet spot between the head and the butt. There's the rollicking fright-train groove of the disc-opening "Hang Up Your Hang-ups," building from Wah Wah Watson's greasy guitar intro to a full-fledged juggernaut, and the leadfooted thump of "The Traitor." Lest Hancock get all the credit, note his collaborators: Wayne Shorter, Louis Johnson, Blackbyrd McKnight, Paul Jackson, Harvey Mason, Bennie Maupin and Stevie Wonder, who drops his trademark harmonica into "Steppin In It"'s post-"Chameleon" slop.

Originally published in March 1998
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