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Sunburst (1975)

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Bennie Maupin

Switching over to Blue Note, which was then reaping a fortune with Donald Byrd's R&B outfit, Eddie Henderson pursued a harder, earthier, more structured, funk-driven sound on his first album, while maintaining some of his marvelously spacier instincts for spice. Henderson continued to keep several components of the Herbie Hancock Septet together, for drummer Billy Hart, bassist Buster Williams, reedman Bennie Maupin, and now trombonist Julian Priester are back. But this time, Hancock is replaced by George Duke, and fusionaire bassist Alphonso Johnson and drummer Harvey Mason (late of the Headhunters) are added -- and these switches make much of the difference. Duke is as much of an techie as Herbie was; he delights in flaunting his Echoplex and burbling, shooting, twinkling synthesizer effects. Henderson himself is more into electronic echo and wah-wah effects than before, definitely pursuing the current Miles Davis line but in a brighter, more tonally brilliant manner, and Maupin has many impassioned and creepy (on bass clarinet) moments. The title track, a ruminative Henderson tune with a leaping funk beat, and Mason's archetypical funk workout "Hop Scotch" are the best cuts. ~ Richard S. Ginell