Reissue. Comes with new liner notes. 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.
Opening with the Head Hunters version of "Watermelon Man" and closing with the electro-embracing crossover hit, "Rockit," Mr. Funk is a semi-random skip across Hancock's Columbia recordings, and it technically spans 1973-1983 (at least going by release dates), rather than the 1972-1988 range printed on its cover.
Reissue with latest DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. This is a unique experiment in the Hancock discography, recorded in Tokyo in just one day during a tour of Japan. The first side contains two introspective, complex solo acoustic piano tracks, "Maiden Voyage" and "Dolphin Dance," which are notable since they date from a period when Hancock was supposedly totally immersed in electronics. Side two has two even more unusual pieces – "Nobu," a one-man show recorded in real time with the sample-and-hold feature of an ARP 2600 synthesizer providing a rhythm section for Hancock's electric keyboards, followed by "Cantaloupe Island" with a pre-recorded synth bassline.
Beyond category or idiom, audacious in its very idea, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter perform a little over an hour of spontaneous improvised duets for grand piano and soprano sax. That's all no synthesizers, no rhythm sections, just wistful, introspective, elevated musings between two erudite old friends that must have made the accountants at PolyGram reach for their Mylanta. Hancock's piano is long on complex harmonies of the most cerebral sort, occasionally breaking out into a few agitated passages of dissonance. His technique in great shape, Shorter responds with long-limbed melodies, darting responses to Hancock's lashings, and occasional painful outcries of emotion.
Reissue with the latest 2015 remastering. Comes with liner notes. Nicely sharp sounds from the great JJ Johnson – a set that has the trombonist really honing his edge on a host of tight, short tracks – with a vibe that almost recalls his initial bop recordings on Blue Note and Prestige! The style here is a bit more sophisticated – definitely with an ear towards the modern directions that JJ was exploring in the 50s – but the sound is also nicely spontaneous, with more focus on improvisation between group members than larger arrangements – quite nice, given that the group features excellent tenor from Bobby Jaspar on tenor – and either Tommy Flanagan or Hank Jones on piano, Percy Heath or Wilbur Little on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Tracks are short, and titles include "Overdrive", "Cube Steak", "Chasin The Bird", and "Solar".
Reissue with the latest 2015 remastering. Comes with liner notes. One of the hippest, hardest albums that trombonist JJ Johnson ever cut for Columbia – a session we'd rank right up there with his amazing JJ Inc record, and like that one a really cooking hardbop record that maybe even rivals the best on Blue Note and Prestige at the time! As with that gem, the strength here is really the group – not just tremendous trombone from JJ, but great work from Nat Adderley on trumpet, Bobby Jaspar on tenor and flute, Cedar Walton on piano, Spanky DeBrest on bass, and Albert Heath on drums – all working with a soaring, soulful energy that's a lot more hardbop heavy than you might expect from JJ Johnson on some of his other projects for the label.
Reissue with the latest DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. Guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo was only 22 years old when he recorded Winds of Barcelona, his first leader album, in 1969. He had been discovered by the Japanese jazz giant Sadao Watanabe, and had been a member of Watanabe's group for over a year. Masuo, and the fresh, new kind of jazz – sometimes referred to as "pop jazz" – was immensely popular at the time.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. One of Barney Kessel's greatest albums ever – a rare Italian-only session that has a sparkly Brazilian groove! The record was recorded in Rome in 1970, and it's got Kessel's guitar fronting a combo with organ and some very tight percussion – all dancing around in a fast samba mode that's different from virtually anything else he ever recorded – very groovy, very upbeat, and very much what you might expect when the talents of a west coast guitar giant meets the best of the Italian studio scene of the time! There's loads of original tracks on the set – like "Freeway", "Lison", "BJ's Samba", and "On the Riviera" – and the whole thing has a breezy dancing feel that's really wonderful!