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Head Hunters

The Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album
Steven F. Pond
The story of one of the most influential and controversial jazz recordings of the twentieth century

Description

Winner of the U.S. chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's Woody Guthrie Award for most distinguished work on popular music.

Steven Pond's Head Hunters captures a transitional moment in modern music history, a time when jazz and rock intermingled to create a new, often controversial, genre. At the forefront of that style was Head Hunters, Herbie Hancock's foray into the fusion jazz market.

The album became a turning point for a radical shift in both the production and reception of jazz. It was the best-selling jazz record of all time to that point, and the music industry quickly responded to the expanded market, with production and promotion budgets rising tenfold. Such a shift helped musicians pry open the control-booth door, permanently enlarging their role in production. But critics, believing that rock and funk might be appropriating jazz to new musical ends---or more ominously, for commercial reasons---grew increasingly alarmed at what they saw as the beginning of the end of jazz.

Steven F. Pond is Associate Professor of music at Cornell University. He will become Editor-in-Chief for the journal Jazz Perspectives in 2011.

". . . [a] very readable dissection of all the different ways in which Herbie Hancock's 1973 album Head Hunters broke the mould. . . . An entertaining and thought-provoking read."
---Jazzwise Magazine

"An important and timely book. Pond's work reflects the insight an informed researcher and skilled performer can bring to the study of music."
---Travis Jackson, Associate Professor of American Music, University of Chicago

Praise / Awards

  • "Head Hunters uses Herbie Hancock's famous 1973 album as a jumping-off point for considering broader aesthetic and historiographical issues. In terms of methodology, Steven Pond produces his own "fusion" with a seamless blend of ethnographic and historical research. This book will fascinate scholars and fans of jazz and popular music, as well as those interested in the emerging interdisciplinary field of sound studies, and in the broader relationship between genre and identity in contemporary music."
    ---David Brackett, McGill University, is author of Interpreting Popular Music, and The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates
  • "'Jazz Fusion'-fighting words for jazz purists-can no longer be wrestled over as simply 'inside' or 'outside' real jazz. Digging deeply into the many expected and unexpected fusions that produced the music on this iconic 'Jazz Fusion' album, Steve Pond achieves more than writing Head Hunters squarely into the jazz tradition-remarkably, he makes a case for 'fusing' as a preferred framework for rethinking jazz classification. Deftly fusing musicological and socio-historical cultural analysis, Head Hunters, the book, like Head Hunters, the album, will enliven debates about the sounds and meanings of jazz. Unabashedly scholarly, yet as gripping and readable as the album is unapologetically popular and danceable, this book will be gobbled up like a musicological mystery novel that incites and invites readers to listen again and rethink 'who-done-it' and how in the jazz history we thought we knew."
    ---Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas, author of Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s (2000), and Dance Floor Democracy: the Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen (forthcoming)
  • "An important and timely book. Pond's work reflects the insight an informed researcher and skilled performer can bring to the study of music. In exploring varied dimensions-sonic, cultural, technological, economic-he renders the tale in all its complexity, without sacrificing clarity of expression. This is the kind of book jazz scholarship has long needed."
    ---Travis Jackson, Associate Professor of American Music, University of Chicago
  • ". . . an academic but very readable dissection of all the different ways in which Herbie Hancock's 1973 album Head Hunters broke the mould. . . . An entertaining and thought-provoking read."
    ---Brian Priestley, Jazzwise Magazine
  • "By using musical analysis and insightful reflections from Head Hunters band members . . . Pond explains Hancock's concurrent interests in Africa, r&b, modern European classical music and black political consciousness of the early '70s . . . . The book illustrates how things can happen simultaneously--that a populist minded album can brim with artistic integrity."
    ---Downbeat
  • "Pond comes at the music every which way, from discussions of African aesthetics as they related to jazz history and culminating in the Head Hunters sessions, to musical transcriptions of key passages from the disc and from pioneer Sly Stone, to the backstory of how legendary Columbia promo man Vernon Slaughter pushed "Chameleon" with R&B radio."
    ---Detroit Metro Times
  • "Pond dissects and analyzes what went into the making of this album, both musical and extra-musical with enthusiasm and thoroughness."
    ---ARSC Journal

Look Inside

Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted November 2005.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 288pp.
  • 18 B&W photograph section, approx 30 music examples, 3 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03448-2

Add to Cart
  • $24.95 U.S.

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