Reading Kevin Fellezs's Birds Of Fire, about the birth of fusion music, opened up a few new portals for me, not least of which was a previously undiscovered trove of Herbie Hancock recordings.
Crossings is the first of these, and having listened to it now several times I wonder that I'd previously overlooked it, it's so breathtakingly good, and not a million miles away from music I already have, though sufficiently different that it's not just more of the same.
Sleeping Giant opens with drums reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's The Jungle Line, but shifts through phases dominated by piano, trumpet and soprano sax, with transitions provided by the synths, at times heavily funky, but constantly restless, with the tempo and texture never settling down. The muted horn itself is reminiscent of Miles.
Quasar begins with some thunderous piano chords, though overall the piece is gentle, notwithstanding the turbulent flute (well, it is the 70s!) and horn.
Water Torture is the most atmospheric piece, with the flute and horn now ethereal, complemented by the synths. The groove anticipates Headhunters somewhat.
Upon giving this a listen once I immediately ordered Sextant, so enthused was I. There's a little bit of a feeling that what Hancock was doing at the time was a logical extension of what Miles began with Filles De Kilimanjaro and which developed through In A Silent Way and on to Get Up With It, though there's nothing of the weirdness of On The Corner. Instead we have the experimentation with the synths that at the time would have put this at the leading edge technologically. According to Fellezs, at the time audiences found difficulty in accepting what Hancock was doing. Listening to it now it feels both still fresh but also somehow familiar. Maybe now people are ready.