Mwandishi was Herbie Hancock‘s greatest band, straight up. Over the course of three albums – Mwandishi, Crossings and Sextant – they took jazz and funk deep into space, and by the time they figured out a way back down to Earth, shit was permanently altered. The band included Hancock on piano and Fender Rhodes, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, Bennie Maupin on soprano sax, flute and bass clarinet, Buster Williams on bass, and Billy Hart on drums. On the second album, Patrick Gleeson joined, playing synthesizers.

There’s very little film of Mwandishi at work, unfortunately. But they did make an appearance on French television in 1972, and you can see three pieces below.

Here’s “Toys”:

Here’s “Sleeping Giant” (which was nearly 25 minutes long on Crossings, by the way):

And here’s “Water Torture”:

There’s a new-ish book by Bob Gluck, You’ll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band (buy it from Amazon), that I haven’t read yet but am very interested to check out. Also worth hearing: various solo albums made by Mwandishi members during the early 1970s, like Eddie Henderson‘s Inside Out and Realization, Buster WilliamsPinnacle, Bennie Maupin‘s The Jewel in the Lotus, and Julian Priester‘s Love, Love.

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