jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, released in 1971.
It is one of Hancock's first departures from the traditional idioms
of jazz as well as the onset of a new, creative and original style which
produced an appeal to a wider audience, before his 1973 album, Head Hunters. In addition, Mwandishi was Hancock's attempt at continuing the musical principles and styles he began playing with Miles Davis on In A Silent Way. Hancock's previous attempts at jazz-rock fusion included Fat Albert Rotunda, an album conceived solely for Bill Cosby's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
Mwandishi was recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, in San Francisco, California
in December 1970. It was originally recorded by the Mwandishi Sextet
that was built around Herbie Hancock and progressive notions of funk,
jazz, and rock during this time period.
The tracks on Mwandishi are "Ostinato," the time signature
of which is 15/8, "You'll Know When You Get There", and "Wandering
Spirit Song". "Wandering Spirit Song" features Hancock's extensive use
of tension and release, whereby he builds the tension of the song by
increasing the amount of musical voices and increasing crescendos, only
to release the tension with long held out chords on his synthesizer.
Mwandishi is a Swahili name Hancock adopted during the late
1960s and early 1970s. The members of the Sextet each adopted a Swahili
name: Mchezaji/Buster Williams, Jabali/Billy Hart, Mganga/Eddie Henderson, Mwile/Bennie Maupin, Pepo Mtoto/Julian Priester, and Ndugu/Leon Chancler.
With the formation of his great electric sextet, Herbie Hancock's music took off into outer and inner space, starting with the landmark Mwandishi album recorded in a single session on New Year's Eve. Ever the gadgeteer, Herbie
plays with electronic effects devices -- reverb units, stereo tremelo,
and Echoplex -- which all lead his music into spacier, open-ended
directions very much influenced by Miles Davis'
electric experiments, rendering it from post-bop conventions. There are
just three tracks: the insistent 15/4-meter Afro-electric-funk workout
"Ostinato (Suite for Angela)," the inquisitive "You'll Know When You Get
There" with its ethereal Hancock voicings, and trombonist Julian Priester's "Silent Way"-influenced "Wandering Spirit Song," which eventually dips into tumultuous free form. Eddie Henderson emerges as a major trumpet soloist here, probing, jabbing, soliloquizing; Bennie Maupin comes over from Lee Morgan's group to add his ominous bass clarinet and thoughtful alto flute; and Buster Williams' bass and Billy Hart's flexible drums propel the rhythm section. Santana's José Chepitó Areas and Leon "Ndugu" Chancler also add funky percussive reinforcement to "Ostinato," along with guitarist Ron Montrose. The group's collective empathy is remarkable, and Hancock had only begun to probe the outer limits with this extraordinary music.
1. Ostinato (Suite For Angela)
2. You'll Know When You Get There
3. Wandering Spirit Song
4. Ostinato (Suite for Angela) [promo edit]
5. You'll Know When You Get There [promo edit]
Mwandishi / Herbie Hancock – Fender Rhodes piano
Mchezaji / Buster Williams – Bass
Jabali / Billy Hart – Drums
Mganga / Eddie Henderson – Trumpet, flugelhorn
Mwile / Bennie Maupin – Bass clarinet, alto flute, piccolo
Pepo Mtoto / Julian Priester – tenor trombone, bass trombone
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar on "Ostinato (Suite For Angela)"
Leon "Ndugu" Chancler – drums and percussion
Cepito / Jose Areas – congas and Timbales on "Ostinato (Suite For Angela)"