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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely hardcore, a total mind-job, powerful, intense- I could go on
The period that Herbie Hancock had between his 60s Blue Note work and his funk stuff (Head Hunters ownwards) is often criminally overlooked. His Mwandishi band recorded some of the most awesome, mind-blowingly messed up music that I have ever heard, and Sextant is probably the most challenging album of all. I guess you could call it the paranoid, insomniac brother of...
Published on 26 Oct 2006 by The Fish

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2.0 out of 5 stars ElectriFRIED Mwandishi
Seems like I'm in the minority on this one - maybe it's an age thing. After so, so many years of digging 'Mwandishi' my curiosity about what happened next (after 'Crossings') finally got the better of me.... I sincerely wish it hadn't. Herbie's continued exploration into Moog territory would be better suited to an episode of Dr Who of the same period. The whole album...
Published 23 months ago by Nomad


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely hardcore, a total mind-job, powerful, intense- I could go on, 26 Oct 2006
This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
The period that Herbie Hancock had between his 60s Blue Note work and his funk stuff (Head Hunters ownwards) is often criminally overlooked. His Mwandishi band recorded some of the most awesome, mind-blowingly messed up music that I have ever heard, and Sextant is probably the most challenging album of all. I guess you could call it the paranoid, insomniac brother of Crossings (their previous album). Where Crossings had a real organic, earthy feel to it, Sextant moves even further into uncharted territory. If you like, Bitches Brew was electric, but this is electronic.

This is most noticeable on Rain Dance. It's probably the only electrosiren-swing tune you're likely to hear. Buster Williams inparticular shines on the upright bass. Hidden Shadows is in 19/4 (!) Yet it's not one of these indulgent excuses to write in a wierd time signature- it really flows, and Herbie plays what I'm tempted to call one of the most brilliant piano solos I've ever heard. Hornets is more of an organically instrumental groove- fast-and-furious- but with the kind of organisation and structure you'd never hear on Bitches Brew.

There's not enough Bennie Maupin on this album and he doesn't shine like he does on Crossings, but listen out for Eddie Henderson on the trumpet and flugel, who steals the show. Buster Williams is out of sight, as is Herbie himself. Overall, this album doesn't quite beat Crossings (for me nothing can; buy that before you buy this) but it is the most rewarding long term listen around. If nothing else, pretend you like it just to impress your friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew there was stuff this good in existence without Miles on it?, 20 July 2012
By 
Steve Keen "therealus" (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
Being part 2 of my rediscovery of Herbie Hancock's 70s recordings.

After Crossings, part 1, I was ready to take a hit. Couldn't possibly be as good. It is.

Rain Dance begins with synth-produced dancing raindrops, with other sound effects also contributed electronically, building the ambience. Drum, bass and Fender Rhodes then join in. There's a feeling familiar from (the subsequent and more well-known) Headhunters, but it's too long to be that commercial.

Hidden Shadows is opened by an electric jazz groove from the bass and bass clarinet, underpinned by mellotron (there's a word I never expected to have to type!) and synths and the horns making occasional forays.

Hornets is the closest Hancock gets to a tribute to Miles live. The trumpet, though unmistakably not Miles in timbre is nevertheless uncannily close in phrasing. Bennie Maupin's presence hints at how life would have been had he played Bitches Brew live, and he goes on to channel Airto on kazoo (or Hum-a-zoo as it's called here). There are occasional Miles-like climaxes, and then quite unexpectedly it goes out on the hi-hat.

Part 3: Mwandishi...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trendsetter: leads the way for what is to follow, 22 Aug 2011
By 
D. Robinson "Opera Dave" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
A great album to listen to in almost any mood, and ahead of its time, a sign of things to come. I particularly like "Hornets": with its persistent pulsating dance beat and grungy tones, if you overlooked a few of the more conventional jazzy interludes it really could pass off as a new release on the dance floors tomorrow. A good album cover too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fusion Incarnate, 17 Feb 2013
This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
I just love it when an artist known for a certain style or sound breaks out of old ground and launches into something new and exciting. I feel this is exactly what Herbie Hancock did when he made this album. He'd already done 'Crossings' which had laid the ground work for this new style but he obviously felt that album was enough of a success to continue in the new experimental vein.

What one hears in the opening seconds of the first track 'Rain Dance' is not jazz; it is something new. Sure it has jazzy elements but its core is now more towards electronica/funk territory. In short we hear fusion. It's the death of jazz but the birth of a new chapter in music.

Even Miles Davis himself said in an interview in later years that jazz didn't exist anymore. Yes, bands play jazz music today but it's more like a picture of jazz rather than jazz incarnate as it was in say the era of 'A Kind of Blue'.

So, if you want to hear a highly skilled keyboardist from a jazz background laying down some beautiful and occasionally startling sounds in lengthy tracks, 'Sextant' is most definitely your album. If you want not even a trace of rock, funk, electronica or latin in your jazz collection then most definitely stay away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did it all go? (Later it went all over the airwaves), 7 Nov 2012
By 
N. Jones "Nic The Pen" (Oxford, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
Flugelhorn, bass clarinet, trombone, cowbell, electric bass, drums, synthesizers, electric piano and clavinet with fuzz wah and echoplex, dacha-di-bello, melotron (sic), Steinway piano, congas, bongos. This is the instrumentation for `Hidden Shadows' the second track on this album. I've listed it because it gives an insight into what's going on here, which is jazz-rock fusion from 1973, so before the whole notion settled down to be a vehicle for self-indulgence and solo overload.

This is an album which, along with MWANDISHI from 1971 and CROSSINGS from the following year captures a sextet unlike any other in fusion history. It also says something for Hancock's artistic development considering he's shied away from such risk-taking in the decades since. But it wouldn't be fair to assume that the collision of funk, psychedelia, and jazz that `Hidden Shadows' is and which both predates and surely influenced Prince can be put out every day.

Indeed the whole album's nothing if it isn't rarefied music. `Hornets' took up the whole of the second side of the LP. As it develops it shows a measure of debt to Miles Davis in his ON THE CORNER period, but then Davis and Hancock had form enough not only to be in the fusion vanguard but also to ensure that the form could be restless and exploratory, as opposed to commoditised for spoon-feeding to a less demanding audience. Bennie Maupin is a musician probably pathologically incapable of flirting with the bland anyway, as he shows here on bass clarinet.

Hancock went on to have a hit album with HEADHUNTERS later in the decade, but as far as this writer's concerned it was a hit mainly because it's so straightforward by comparison with the endlessly intriguing -in places baffling- stuff to be found here. But then there's never been any accounting for taste.
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2.0 out of 5 stars ElectriFRIED Mwandishi, 7 Sep 2012
This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
Seems like I'm in the minority on this one - maybe it's an age thing. After so, so many years of digging 'Mwandishi' my curiosity about what happened next (after 'Crossings') finally got the better of me.... I sincerely wish it hadn't. Herbie's continued exploration into Moog territory would be better suited to an episode of Dr Who of the same period. The whole album feels like a popularized version of what Miles D had been doing for a couple years - heavy bass riffs anchoring all sorts of envelope pushing - but without the jaggedness or ferocity that makes much of the latter so listenable (though I confess that with a few exceptions I sort of lose the thread from about Live Evil/mid 1970 onward). And as for the prominent use of a 'Hum-A-Zoo' on the last track: Why weren't there laws prohibiting such puerile gimmickry? The only saving grace is that the Headhunters band was just round the corner...and now for the fatwahs!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An early CD, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: Sextant (Audio CD)
It sounded like they were experimenting on a different number of sounds. Though it is a Herbie Hancock CD it is an acquired taste. Moreover the CD is not as well recorded as Secrets that I reviewed earlier. Still, if you love Jazz, this is a piece o History and a must listen.
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Sextant
Sextant by Herbie Hancock (Audio CD - 1998)
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