After his promising debut Takin` Off, Herbie came out with this remarkably assured album with an eclectic line-up of trumpeter Donald Byrd, too little heard Grachan Moncur III on trombone, Hank Mobley on tenor sax, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Chuck Israels, and a swingin` Tony Williams occupying the drum seat with his customary aplomb.
Some very fine jazz is to be heard here, the mixed bag of musicians playing like they`ve been together for a while. Williams effortlessly drives the whole thing along, and Herbie`s solos are models of concision. Hancock was still a very young man, but genius couldn`t help breaking through, and there are lyrical pointers to his more ethereal, impressionistic later work on some of these tracks. It makes for an intriguing hybrid of styles (and it sure beats the overrated doodlings of Head Hunters).
No need to pick through each track, as there`s a consistency of inventiveness and eloquence on this second record which is a guarantee of excellence.
Some fellow reviewers on this and the US site have tended to damn this album with faint praise, but I think it`s a lovely, fresh, likeable set of numbers, with a gently forlorn ballad halfway through in the shape of the all too brief The Pleasure Is Mine, on which the pianist plays like a dream. (Incidentally, on the back cover of this characteristically well-packaged Blue Note remaster, the timing of this track is inaccurately doubled to 8 mins.)
Without the alternate take of the superb Blind Man, Blind Man (so good he named it twice, and recorded it twice too!) this was indeed Hancock`s half-hour - well, 34 mins to be exact - and the extra track here brings it up to a pleasing 42 mins, all of them treasurable.
There`s little that`s earth-shattering or particularly innovative here, but what you get is a fascinating album of funky-lyrical jazz with that mix of restraint and joy that is, to me at any rate, irresistible.