He fused jazz and funk with The Headhunters
Herbie fast made the Rhodes his own sound, and it was Head Hunters (1973), his twelfth album, that claimed the era. Before this, Hancock had released three experimental jazz albums—Mwandishi, Crossings and Sextant—in an attempt to find a new path for his music to start on.
This record was a sidestep from jazz. As Hancock says on the liner notes to the 1997 reissue: “I began to feel that I had been spending so much time exploring the upper atmosphere of music and the more ethereal kind of far-out spacey stuff. Now there was this need to take some more of the earth and to feel a little more tethered; a connection to the earth.”
He commands an entire suite of groundbreaking electronic instruments: from the Fender Rhodes to the clavinet, the ARP Odyssey synth, and the ARP Soloist. But many of the obscure quirks of the album’s sound come from Bill Summers, his percussionist, who was armed with even more: the agogô, balafon, beer bottle, cabasa, congas, gankogui, hindewhu, log drum, shekere, surdo, as well as the classic tambourine.