Jazz master Herbie Hancock has his CROSSINGS album reissued here, with the three tracks offering a sprawling example of his innovative fusion of styles.
With the frenzied knocking of what sounds like a clock shop gone berserk, Crossings takes the Herbie Hancock Sextet even further into the electric avant-garde, creating its own idiom. Now, however, the sextet has become a septet with the addition of Dr. Patrick Gleeson on Moog synthesizer, whose electronic decorations, pitchless and not, give the band an even spacier edge. Again, there are only three tracks -- the centerpiece being Hancock's multi-faceted, open-structured suite in five parts called "Sleeping Giant." Nearly 25 minutes long yet amazingly cohesive, "Sleeping Giant" gathers a lot of its strength from a series of funky grooves -- the most potent of which explodes at the tail-end of Part Two -- and Hancock's on-edge Fender Rhodes electric piano solos anticipate his funk adventures later in the '70s. Bennie Maupin's "Quasar" pushes the session into extraterrestrial territory, dominated by Gleeson's wild Moog effects and trumpeter Eddie Henderson's patented fluttering air trumpet. Even stranger is Maupin's "Water Torture," which saunters along freely with splashes of color from Hancock's spooky Mellotron and fuzz-wah-pedaled Fender Rhodes piano, Gleeson's electronics, and a quintet of voices. Still a challenging sonic experience, this music (which can be heard on Warners' Mwandishi two-CD set) has yet to find its audience, though the electronica-minded youth ought to find it dazzling. ~ Richard S. Ginell