Recording information: Automatt, San Francisco, CA; Filmways; Heider Recording, San Francisco, CA; Village Recorder, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Bob Seidemann.
Herbie Hancock's lackluster string of electric albums around this period was enhanced by this one shining exception: an incorrigibly eclectic record that flits freely all over the spectrum. Using several different rhythm sections, Herbie Hancock is much more the imaginative hands-on player than at any time since the prime Headhunters period, overdubbing lots of parts from his ever-growing collection of keyboards. He has regained a good deal of his ability to ride in the groove. "Calypso" finds him playing synthesized steel drums and interacting with customary complexity and ebullience with V.S.O.P. mates Tony Williams and Ron Carter. Disco rears its head, but inventively this time on "Just Around the Corner," and in league with Jaco Pastorius' vibrating, interlacing bass, Hancock gets off some good, updated jazz-funk on "Spiraling Prism" and "4 AM." There is even a reunion of the original Headhunters on a rhythmically tangled remake of "Shiftless Shuffle"; drummer Harvey Mason sounds like a rhythm machine gone bonkers. Easily the outstanding track -- and one of Hancock's most haunting meditations -- is "Textures," where he plays all of the instruments himself. This would be the last outcropping of electronic delicacy from Hancock for some time, and it was mostly -- and unjustly -- overlooked when it came out. ~ Richard S. Ginell