Story of a recording: “Infinite Spirit: Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band”

Story of a recording: “Infinite Spirit: Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band”

“It was playing with Herbie that I found myself.” With those words, jazz master drummer Billy Hart described his three years performing in pianist Herbie Hancock’s formative Sextet during the early 1970s. The band Hart referenced was at the center of my first book, You’ll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Hart and I were chatting in November 2014, contemplating the possibility of re-recording some of the band’s repertoire. Jump seven months ahead and the recording engineer cued us to begin, as we played with Hart and his fellow original band member, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and another colleague, bassist Christopher Dean Sullivan. That my work on the book could lead to such a session had been previously unimaginable to me, and it was a great privilege to have this opportunity. We were all delighted with the fruits of the session.

The nature of the resulting CD is embedded in the title: Infinite Spirit: Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band (FMR Records, release date: January 15, 2016). The goal was to “revisit” in the sense of taking an entirely new look at the music. What was retained of its origins is a flexibly treated framework consisting of the musical forms and melodies, but more important, the band’s exploratory, improvisatory spirit. Also revisited was the band’s blend of acoustic and electronic sounds. The latter were composed by me in advance of the session and could be heard in our headphones as we performed. The quartet of improvisers thus dynamically responded to each other’s playing and also to the pre-recorded musical tracks that were included in the mix.

It is my hope that the results of this “revisit” will be enjoyed by a wide variety of listeners; jazz lovers, and those who appreciate a beat that is simultaneously complex and in a groove. It will be of particular interest to lovers of the musically adventuresome combination of offbeat funk, abstraction, electronic timbres, and empathetic ensemble playing that characterized the original Mwandishi band.

~ by bobgluck on December 5, 2015.

2 Responses to “Story of a recording: “Infinite Spirit: Revisiting Music of the Mwandishi Band””

  1. This is phenomenal and very exciting news, Bob — mazel tov on an exceptional job, and thanks to Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson and Christopher Sullivan for their work on this with you. To be playing with musicians of that caliber is a huge compliment to you and to them. I can’t wait to hear that CD!



    Kenneth S. Engel Engel Professional Association 4555 IDS Center 80 South Eighth Street Minneapolis, MN 55402 612-343-4555 voice 612-987-2828 mobile 612-343-2226 fax


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