Friday, 27 October 2017


Like every other youtube user, you’ll find me frantically clicking the skip ad button when there’s a break in continuity, but I’m enjoying the promo for the Herbie Hancock Masterclass featuring the great man sitting at a piano discussing music in his own inimitable warm style. I’ve watched it several times now and this morning it reminded me to dig out Herbie’s 1972 album Crossings, which I’m really enjoying, and on my 3rd pass no less as I write this. The second album of the Mwandishi trilogy, Crossings is one of the great Afro-Futurist records, as funky and out-there as anything I’ve heard by Funkadelic or Sun Ra. The centerpiece of the album is the side-long Sleeping Giant with its furious percussion and muscular jazz funk, brilliantly augmented by great dubby effects, and I love the section of music that sounds uncannily like Little Church from Live-Evil (which Herbie played on, that June day in 1970 at Columbia Studio B) – it’s a fantastic atmosphere. But it’s the final few minutes of Crossings, the closing track Water Torture that I find most tantalizing, as the music slips its moorings and drifts off into deep mellotron space – the group sound like they’ve hooked up with an Alpha Centauri-era Tangerine Dream – what a prospect !

Warners’ CD of Crossings sounds terrific but this one instance I wish I had an LP copy just for Robert Springett’s fantastic, eerie artwork - thankfully, the CD edition of the album contained in the excellent 3-disc Warner Bros Years 1969-1972 replicates the original gatefold LP sleeve featuring some appropriately psychedelic pictures of the group as if they had strayed from Ira Cohen’s 1968 mylar fantasia The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda...

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