November 1944: Army airmen set out in a B-24 bomber on what should have been an easy mission off the Borneo coast. Instead, they found themselves unexpectedly facing a Japanese fleet and were shot down. When they cut themselves loose from their parachutes, they were scattered across the island's mountainous interior.
' The Headhunters represented a major turning point for Herbie Hancock, whose approach to fusion became slicker and more commercial (though not without substance or integrity) with the formation of this popular band in 1973. Before that, the chameleonic pianist/keyboardist had been leading a daring unit called the Sextant, which fused jazz, R&B and rock with world music and took more than its share of chances. …Sony's Legacy label reissued most of the Headhunters' work on CD, and in 1998 the group reunited to record "Return of the Headhunters!" ' Alex.Henderson@allmusic.com
' In 1975, Herbie Hancock's group the Headhunters, which brought him immense success at the time, released their first solo album. Produced by Hancock, but without his participation, the lineup features the Thrust group of Mike Clark on drums, Paul Jackson on bass, Bill Summers on percussion, and Bennie Maupin on various reeds, plus new guitarist DeWayne "Blackbird" McKnight. While the thought of a Hancock-less Headhunters might puzzle some listeners, the group did extremely well without him – in fact, "Survival of the Fittest" may be the ultimate space-funk album. The interplay between all musicians is tighter than tight, especially in the rhythm section of Jackson-Clark-Summers, who can effortlessly make everything groove and move.' Christian.Genzel@allmusic.com
Here is an interesting and not paradoxical combination: Bennie Maupin on Cryptogramophone. Maupin hasn't been heard from as a leader since 1998 on his fine, funky, Driving While Black. That doesn't mean he hasn't been busy; he's played on records by Chick Corea, the Headhunters, George Cables, Victor Bailey, David Arnay, Mike Clark, and others. He was also part of DJ and producer Carl Craig's revolutionary Detroit Experiment. Penumbra is all his, however, and aside from Jewel in the Lotus, it may be the finest outing in his catalog as a leader. Maupin plays his usual array of instruments – tenor, soprano, flute, bass clarinet, and piano. He is joined by the excellent bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz (also known as "Oles"), drummer Michael Stephans, and Darryl "Munyungo" Jackson on percussion. Rhythm is the key here, as all of these 14 compositions are rhythmically propelled. Maupin's compositional frame has been informed by all of his teachers, most notably John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Yusef Lateef. Modal motifs can be heard in most pieces, and Maupin's playing around and through the rhythm makes for infectious and quietly dramatic listening. Restraint is a key element of all the tracks on this set. Tunes don't "swing" per se, but they are excellent examples of the deep interplay of the ensemble.