HERBIE HANCOCK — Crossings (review)

HERBIE HANCOCK — Crossings album cover Album · 1972 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
AtomicCrimsonRush
"Crossings" is an exploration of jazz fusion with some of the most compelling lengthy pieces composed for a Herbie Hancock album, by the Mwandishi band. There are only three tracks but all are captivating, beginning with the album side 'Sleeping Giant' with an intro of African tribal polyrhythmic percussion. It settles into a jazz groove that simmers along until the rhythm breaks and there is a brass passage of improvised elegance. A trumpet solo glows brightly as Hancock pours out keyboard liquid and there are some chilling African percussive vibes. Then a streetwise funkadelic beat crashes through, like the crime-jazz soundtrack of "Shaft", or a 70s "Dirty Harry" movie. It is little wonder that the man was called on to create soundtracks for 70s crime movies such as "Death Wish". Maupin's sax is absolutely masterful here, nothing compares to the way he makes that sax cry in pain. A killer track in any music connoisseur's collection.

Side two houses two Maupin-penned tracks, that are still consistent in excellence. 'Quasar' is first with some haunting flute and a transfixing bassline from Williams. The jazz dissonance is quite a compelling sound though very off kilter. It takes a while to gather momentum but the spacey streaks are quite uncanny. The cosmic fusion is augmented by angelic flute lines and low synth buzzes.

'Water Torture' is even more electronic and so delightfully different to the previous tracks. The dissonance of odd meters is created by alto sax trills, off beat basslines and keyboard improvisations. It sounds in places like the soundtrack of a crime movie again, bringing to mind sections of 70s scenes of Charles Bronson impending violence. This is a little too quirky for my tastes but it is okay to close the album with a different approach. At 7 minutes in I was longing for some kind of change in direction as the crime-jazz soundtrack was getting tiresome, but it continues in the same vein.

The album is definitely one of the all time greats in the world of Hancock, along with "Headhunters" and "Sextant". I am not a real fan of this style but I am having my ears opened lately with some cool jazz. From Hancock, I had only previously heard 'Rock-it' before this so it is nice to know the man is deserved of his massive reputation outside of that breakdance electro 80s era.
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