HERBIE HANCOCK — Sextant (review)

HERBIE HANCOCK — Sextant album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Miler72
For many years I didn't even realize Herbie Hancock released an album earlier the same year as his ever-popular Headhunters, until about ten years ago. Sextant was that album, and his first for Columbia. I heard how much it was a commercial failure, but the only reason for that, really, was it was over the heads of mainstream listeners. For the most adventurous listeners, you're really in for a treat! The lineup is the same as before, with Hancock, Billy Hart, Buster Williams, Eddie Henderson, Julian Priester, and Bennie Maupin, with Patrick Gleeson providing the ARP 2600 synthesizers. "Rain Dance" is a really appropriate title, with Patrick Gleeson proving a bunch of synth effects that sound like rain drop patterns. It's loaded with lots of electronic sound effects, plus the jazzy sound in a more experimental manner that's sure to scare off Kenny G. fans. "Hidden Shadows" features Weather Report-like rhythms, and I really love how the Mellotron peeks in from time to time (Herbie Hancock could have potentially became one of the Mellotron greats, but I'm certain the usual mechanical issues was the reason he gave up on it by 1974, and only used it for a short time). "Hornets" has a bit of that funk influence, with blaxploitation-type drumming and Hancock's use of the clavinet, but even here there's so many trippy and unconventional passages to scare off more mainstream listeners. Of course, Columbia Records did not want more albums like this, and wanted something that would sell, so it's little wonder why Hancock formed a new band, and moved towards a more funk-oriented direction that would sell. To me, Sextant just totally blew me away and convinced me to try his previous albums with this lineup (Crossings, Mwandishi). If you like your fusion off-the-beaten track and non-mainstream, you can't go wrong with this.
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