Headhunters – Evolution Revolution
(Basin Street – 2003)
by Ray Redmond
From the very beginning it fits like an old glove. The CD opens with a 19 sec. interlude that’s straight out of the 70’s, then comes right back at you with Slick It, a fusion-esque jam featuring guests Victor Atkins on keyboards and Nicholas Payton contributing some nice trumpet work. The remake of their own God Made Me Funky is still funky, but I like the original better. Headhunting is a successful stab at smooth jazz and features guests Bennie Maupin (another original Headhunter) on sax, Wah Wah Watson on guitar and drummer Harvey Mason, who also wrote the track.
Percussionist Bill Summers, drummer Mike Clark, and bassist Paul Jackson are the three original members of the group that reunited to put out this sizzler. Everything has a gospel-influenced feel and features vocalist Juanita Brooks. Donald Harrison contributes a strong performance on the scattered Loft Funk and the be-bop tracks Take No Prizzonerz and Woody Shaw. Harrison also adds a coating of smoove to the smooth jazz oriented Martell on the Rocks.
Fonkyfried strays into the blues arena a bit with some gutsy vocals by George Porter Jr.. Nutcracker is more straight ahead, riding on Adkins piano and Paytons smooth horns. he last two tracks, Yekola and Evolution Revolution are primarily african music driven by their funky style. This CD is a welcome return for some old friends. Even without their creator, mentor and associate Herbie Hancock, Headhunters attains the same musical heights now as they did 30 years ago.