' Perhaps the funkiest album of Herbie Hancock's early- to mid-'70s jazz/funk/fusion era, Man-Child starts off with the unforgettable "Hang Up Your Hang Ups," and the beat just keeps coming until the album's end. "Sun Touch" and "Bubbles" are slower, but funky nonetheless. Hancock is the star on his arsenal of keyboards, but guitarist Wah Wah Watson's presence is what puts a new sheen on this recording, distinguishing it from its predecessors, Head Hunters and Thrust. Others among the all-star cast of soloists and accompanists include Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica, and longtime Hancock cohort Bennie Maupin on an arsenal of woodwinds.' [email protected]
After Man-Child, alas, Herbie Hancock's American jazz-funk records in the 1970s grew gradually more commercial, less stimulating, and crucially, less truly funky with each release, even as his equipment rack grew larger. Just take a look at the staggering collection of keyboards on the back cover of the Sunlight LP – all sought-after collectors' items now – yet Hancock makes so little use of their possibilities here. For much of the album, he seems most interested in establishing a new career as an electronic vocalist.
Mirroring his onetime boss and mentor Miles Davis' own protean output, Herbie Hancock has explored hard bop, soul-jazz, fusion, funk-rock, soundtracks, hip-hop-inflected pop ("Rockit"), and many permutations in between. His early work for Blue Note, though, offers the best entrée for newcomers. Compiled from five of his albums for the label and covering a period from 1962-1968, this fine sampler includes highlights from his debut, Takin' Off ("Watermelon Man"), the classic Maiden Voyage (the title track and "Dolphin Dance"), and the early electric album Speak Like a Child (the title track and "Riot"). Add to this more indelible cuts like "Cantaloupe Island" and "One Finger Snap," not to mention the presence of numerous '60s jazz luminaries (Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Hank Mobley, Billy Higgins, et al.), and you have perfect way to get a taste of some of the best modern jazz committed to wax.