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Herbie Hancock: Energy in the Environment

The legacy of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi album

For a brief time in the early 1970s, Herbie Hancock went to a place he’d never been before and would never visit again. Having recorded some of the best post- and hard bop for Blue Note throughout the 1960s, followed by a tame groove-oriented set for his new label, Warner Bros., Hancock next unleashed the unanticipated, unprecedented Mwandishi. Much like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, the experimental, rule-breaking Mwandishi-and two subsequent albums Hancock recorded with the same personnel-has come to be viewed as nothing less than a seismic shift in the way jazz musicians approached their craft.

By the time he disbanded the group in 1973 to record the massively successful, highly commercial Head Hunters, Hancock had succeeded in confounding fans and record company alike, inspiring generations of jazz musicians and establishing a reputation as an artist for whom repetition and expectation are anathema.

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