A Man Must Have His Things To Keep Him Sane

Bob Gluck is a sane man. He’s in the processing of writing a book about a worthy and unexplored subject, what he calls Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi Band. Hancock made a series of recordings, from his last Blue Note record, The Prisoner , through a stint at Warner Brothers (that included writing the music for the “Fat Albert” cartoons), through a long stretch at Columbia that eventually devolved into the packaged commercial music of Future Shock. The start of the Columbia years was fabulous, though, not only producing the masterpiece of funk culture that is Headhunters , but Sextant (not my favorite, but highly regarded), and the subtly superb Thrust and Man-Child . The music is technically sophisticated, structurally abstract and totally funky, something along the lines of the highest achievement in popular art. You can follow Bob’s thoughts at his blog before the book actually comes out, and here’s a hope that he will put some of his transcriptions in print, for those of use to, uh, lazy to do our own. Good luck, Bob! (h/t Patrick Jarenwattananon).



I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.


  • Thanks for this tip, George – those are some of my absolute favorite recordings (with Thrust at the top of that list), pillars of 70s culture. I look forward to the book.

  • Thanks for giving my blog a shout-out, George. Working on this book has been a fabulous experience – the music is so good and the people so interesting to talk to. The focus is really the three albums Mwandishi, Crossings, and Sextant, and their live gigs on the road. But it also traces how Herbie emerged musically from age 20, with Donald Byrd and Eric Dolphy, and then Miles, to become the musician who was able to play the intense, eclectic and exploratory music of his Mwandishi Sextet (really Octet). I hope people enjoy the blog – and the book once it comes out, hopefully in the coming year. Again, thanks.

    • Thank you, Bob, and looking forward to the book. It’s a great subject, and no one has done anything on it, so your work will be welcome, I’m sure. I know the clip is not what I wanted, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy to find sample of the Rotunda music, with any cartoons.

  • btw, the video clip is not actually from the music that Herbie made or that was included on Fat Albert Rotunda.

  • I’ve not yet come upon a video clip of the pilot with Herbie’s music; not sure why. One can find video clips of Herbie’s Sextet from 1971, albeit not playing any of the Fat Albert repertoire; but this particular one is one of two that seem difficult to locate. The other is of the Soul! show that was first aired on WNET Public TV, Newark, NJ.

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