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November 02, 1995 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-02

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88 - The Michigan Daily - wu U, e. - Thursday, November 2, 1995

Hancock hit his stride with'IHead Hunters'

;Rx.:,;

By Dav Cook
Daily Arts Writer
Herbie Hancock has done just about
everything in his musical career. From
serving as Miles Davis' premier pianist
to finding mainstream success with
"Rockit," Hancock's career encom-
passes everything from bebop to modal
jazz to rap to funk to digital.
Hancock's original compositions
have always been excellent in all of
these genres, but especially in jazz,
where "Maiden Voyage," "Canta-
loupe Island," "Watermelon Man,"
"Blindman, Blindman" and others
have become standards. While there
may not be one defining album or
song for his career, 1973's "Head
Hunters" might be his best work, and
it showed that Hancock the innovator
was as formidable as Hancock the
performer.
The record's first song, "Chame-
leon," became a disco hit when first
released. It does have disco elements,
and it gives you a beat you can dance
to, but it's not in the same league as
your "Stayin' Alive" or "Disco In-
ferno." First of all, "Chameleon" is
all instrumental, with the most impor-
tant sections being the solos, not vo-
cals or choruses. It's also elaborately
orchestrated with both acoustic and
electronic instruments, extremely
well-organized in its composition
from beginning to end, a total of 15
minutes, 40 seconds. This is broken

up into two different sections, the
first being a little more recognizable
and "disco-ish" than the second. The
rest of the musicians lay back enough
so as not to get in the way, but their
solid understatement reveals a strong
knowledge of the groove, as well as of
their respective instruments.
And Herbie! Aside from composing
this monster of a piece, he lets us know
how it's done on two separate solos, the
latter on a Fender Rhodes electric pi-
ano. This particular solo is a master-
necoii
1piUSi

Herbie isn't the only star on "Head
Hunters." All of the instrumentalists
are strong, but drummer Harvey Ma-
son and bassist Paul Jackson in par-
ticular are outstanding. Mason's work
throughout, and especially on "Cha-
meleon," show him to be both the
perfect compliment to the group as
well as a master of touch and tech-
nique. Mason, Jackson, percussionist
Bill Summers and reed man Bennie
Maupin all knew their roles in the
quintet. As a result, the spaces in the
music become that much more satis-
fying when filled in during peaks of
solos or jams. Herbie definitely knew
what he was doing when he put these
four other musicians together for this
album, and the best evidence of this is
that in the 20 years that have passed
since "Head Hunters" was released,
nobody has played "Chameleon" as
well since, though many have tried.
"Chameleon" is the lynchpin of the
album, and definitely the best track,
but the three others are good as well.
The last one, "Vein Melter," is just as

much in the pocket in an entirely dif-
ferent groove as "Chameleon." An
epic fusion-ballad, the song isn't as
remarkable initially as it is after sev-
eral listens. As an example of typical
space and understatement, Mason
plays the same beat for eight straight
minutes, not varying once. But it
works, and it even starts to sound like
that's exactly what the song called
for.
It's often true that an album that is
recognized as "ground-breaking" or
"innovative" is inaccessible to most
listeners, dooming it to commercial fail-
ure but some sort of artistic success.
Not so with "Head Hunters." Judging
by the reaction it received when it was
released and the directions that this
kind of music has gone since then, it
was a change that both performers and
listeners were ready for. Credit Herbie
Hancock with both the innovation and
perfection of this album. Some argue
Charlie Parker perfected bebop while
inventing it. Herbie did the same with
fusion.

South

lal jam at

South Nomnal rocks
Ann Arbor, Ypsi scene,:

piece, plain and simple. Like "Chame-
leon" itself, the solo isn't virtuosicin its
technique, but it dazzles in the way it
weaves in and out of the chords and
harmonie:s
Although he was referring to "Cha-
meleon," Herbie's words from the CD
liner notes could apply to his solos as
well: "Simplicity is almost always bet-
ter. You can get simplicity out of com-
plexity if you're clever enough. That's
how you get complexity over to the
general public ... to put it in a simple
form."

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IJazn master Herbie Hancock during the "Riptide" recording sessions.
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By Mark Carlson
Daily Arts Writer
Brothers Nathan and Jeremy Mackinder
have come a long way and overcome
quite a few obstacles, all for one simple
reason: To rock your ass. The Mackinders
(Nathan sings and Jeremy plays bass), along
with long-time drummer Boone
Gegenheimer,havebeenevolvingwiththeir
band,SouthNormal,sincebeforetheyounger
Nathan was of driving age. Their original
line-up, which has gone through several
(and often very sudden) changes, started
playingtheirbrandofgroove-orientedgnmgy
rock at local Ann Arbor and Ypsi clubs
about three years ago.
Still, the band is one of the youngest
groups playing out in the area, and this
attribute definitely brings some enthusi-
asm to both the band's energetic live
shows and their youthful audience. Re-
calls Jeremy, "Back when we first started
playing, they used to make us leave right
when we were done because we were so
young. Boone was 16, Nate was 17, and
none of us were 21 yet."
Though the band was young, they knew
where they wanted to head, and that was
right into the studio. They hookedup with
Andy Patalin at the Loft (co-owned and
run by Patalin and his brother Tim, who
has attracted a lot of attention lately as the
producer of Sponge's debut goldmine)
recording studio in Saline, and recorded
their first album, "Tommorrow's
Yesterday's Heroes," a super dissonant
grunge fest that is now out of print. The
sound was good and the songs were
rockin', but the music world was at the
peak of"Grunge phobia," when anything
distorted and angst-ridden was simply
labeled a Pearl Jam rip-off and not given
a chance. Though the songs were good,
the band rarely plays their old material at
shows. "We never really go back to stuff.
Everything has progressed a lot better
now, and we try to keep the shows fresh
with new material," commented Nathan.
Though tagged as a grange band by
some local press, South Normal started
doing very well in the local scene and
building up quite a following by playing
out anywhere andeverywhere they could.
Though Ann Arborcertainly doesn't have
a plethora of clubs for local bands to play
in, the band tried to find alternatives. Says
Nathan of their resourcefulness, "A lot of
people look at it like there are only two
places to play in Ann Arbor, but what
we've done is we've played anywhere
that will allow a loud rock band to play.

We've played Cava Java, P.J.'s Records,
Ashley's, and Wherehouse Records.
You've just gotta find a place to play and
bust your ass. The audience will come if
you just keep playing out."
Just when the bandwas startingtopickup
a lot of momentum, personnel troubles be-
gan to plague them. Original guitarist Jack
Cronenwasgrowingunhappywiththegroup,
and decided to leave in late 1994. They had
recently brought aboard second guitarist
Aaron Mestel,butforthetimebeingdecided
to leave South Normal behind. The
Mackinders and Gegenheimer hooked up
with guitarist and fellow Chelsea grduate
Steve Hamess and formed the short-lived
band "I Ain't Sayin'."
Suddenly, Cronen changed his mind,
and South Normal was brought back from
the grave. Then, Cronen once again de-
cided to leave (this time in the middle of
a gig) and Harness was brought in, now as
a permanent fixture in South Normal.
"It's good all that happened, though,"
says Nathan."'Cause we're so much hap-
pier now. It was definitely a rough time in
the history of South Normal. We're just
really glad to finally be getting along and
working with people we like."
With Mestel and Harness came some
stability, enough to get a lot of new songs
written. So, once again the band went into
the Loft with Patalin to record anew album.
The finished product, "Numb," is a much
more mature, groove oriented record that
rocks very hard and sounds very good.
Jeremy's bass lines slink around
Gegenheimer'sexcellentdrummingtopro-
vide a powerful backbone, while Nathan's
aggressive vocals and Harness and Mestel's
twin guitar attack twist and turn through a
variety of sounds. The disc is one ofthe top
local sellers at P.J.'s and Wherehouse, and
WIQB,AnnArbor'sonly commercial radio
station, has even started to play thealbum's
title track.
Though not yet signed to any labelthe
band is happy to be where they're at now.
"We're just gonna keep playing," says
Nathan. "I don't really want to go out and
find somebody to sign us, that's not my
main goal. But Ijust wanna keep playing
around. People are hearing about us, and
they're coming to watch our shows now,
and that's all I can ask."

AON. - SAT.
7AM TO 10PM

SUN.
8AM TO 8PM

SOCIAL WORK DAY

Wednesday, November 8, 1995
3-5 P.M.
AMPHITHEATER, 4TH FLOOR
RACKHAM BUILDING
For students interested in learning more
about careers in social work. Professors, ad-
ministrators and students will speak on career
opportunities in social work and University of
Michigan degree programs:
Master of Social Work
Ph. D. in Social Work and Social Science
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, CALL 764-3309

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