Category Archives: CD Reviews

Herbie Hancock :Jazz to Funk

Jazz to Funk captures jazz legend Herbie Hancock at the peak of his transitional period in the late 1960s when he was moving from the hard-bop sound he had helped establish with Miles Davis and moving towards a more funk-laden sound layered with deep rhythms that would find a home in his work during the 1970s.

This two-disc collection of outtakes and rare recordings finds Hancock backed by some of the era’s most legendary influential players, including Don Cherry and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

The first disc contains four rare cuts from a 1969 session with Albert “Tootie” Heath.  Despite being originally listed as a side-man on the sessions, Hancock’s tasteful piano adds a swinging groove that takes center stage.

The second disc is a mishmash of outtakes from the 1966 soundtrack session for the film Blow Up.  While not as hard hitting as the previous disc, it provides a good feel of the vibe and sound that helped define the time.

This collection is Hancock at his best, both as a player and as a composer.  For those getting into Hancock for the first time (What took so long?), there are better places to start – namely his classic records Cantaloupe Island or Headhunters, but for those who have already gotten into Hancock then this collection is a must.

Peter Rowan: Crucial Country

I’ve seen Peter Rowan enough times over the years to know that he is constitutionally incapable of playing a bad show.  Like any artist however, some shows are better than others.

This set, recorded live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1994, was one of those magic nights when the X-Factor was present.  Rowan’s band that night, Crucial Country, might well have been called The Ringers.  Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Viktor Krauss on bass, Kester Smith on percussion and Larry Atamanuik on drums breathed not just life but fire into some of Rowan’s finest songs.

Drawing heavily from Rowan’s two early 90s gems, Dust Bowl Children and All On A Rising Day, Rowan and company also stretch out on in cosmic cowboy style on classics like “Panama Red,” and “Land Of The Navajo,” and reveal more tender, reflective and philosophical sides at other times.

During the one moment that starts to lag, a drum breakdown part of the way through an extended take on Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry,” the entire crowd began to sing the chorus creating a spine-tingling moment out of what could have been filler.  A dozen years has done nothing to dim the magic captured on these tapes.  It’s good Rowan finally allowed their release.