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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

HEADHUNTERS

By VINCENT ATTARD
Published May 5, 2006

Evolution Revolution
Basin Street

The Headhunters may only be recognized as the accompanists behind ’70s-era Herbie Hancock. While such description is justified, the band sans Hancock is a fully functional working unit consistently reinventing form since the late ’90s. Evolution Revolution is a well-crafted, experimental record full of driving hooks and seething musical proficiency. Evolution is obviously part of the premise, best displayed through the expansive playing of percussionist Bill Summers. Firing up an African beat on “Yekola,” Summers launches into Afro-Caribbean cadence on “Gotta Be Strong” and showcases full-on hindewhu whistle on the album intro. “Loft Funk” colors more inside the lines, nonetheless a fun, loose jazz exercise. Alongside drummer Mike Clark, the pair forms a splendid percussive tag team, vibing so beautifully that when Clark hits a solo, you long for Summers’ return. Reed virtuoso Bennie Maupin is on-point throughout, offering copious vibrant and improvisational moments. While the album’s lesser tracks ironically struggle from a lack of evolution, there’s plenty to satisfy a need for nightclub sizzle.