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Evolution Revolution

Headhunters

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Album Review

Only two members, percussionist Bill Summers and bassist Paul Jackson, remain from the band that backed Herbie Hancock on his 1973 Head Hunters album, which simultaneously breathed life into the flabby and already moribund jazz fusion genre and demonstrated that jazz recordings could actually make money. But the band's attitude of joyful eclecticism and funky exuberance that animated the first project is still there (even if Hancock isn't), and it is abundantly apparent on Evolution Revolution. That's not to say that every track is essential; on the contrary, Jackson's vocals on "God Made Me Funky" are rather lame, "Everything" is nothing special, and the one-chord blues of "Fonkyfried" manages somehow to be simultaneously abrasive and boring. But almost every other track is a rich, fragrant stew of percolating beats and variegated musical elements, from the harmonic complexity of the horn charts on "Loft Funk" to the gorgeous African polyphony on the chorus of "Yekola" and the bouncing, layered rhythms of "Nutcracker." As with so many releases on the Basin Street label, there is an overall feeling of warmth and joy to this album that keeps you hooked even through its less than essential moments. Recommended.

Biography

Formed: 1973

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Headhunters represented a major turning point for Herbie Hancock, whose approach to fusion became slicker and more commercial (though not without substance or integrity) with the formation of this popular band in 1973. Before that, the chameleonic pianist/keyboardist had been leading a daring unit called the Sextant, which fused jazz, R&B, and rock with world music and took more than its share of chances. But regrettably, the Sextant's three albums for Warner Bros. were modest sellers at...
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Evolution Revolution, Headhunters
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