Welcome to ISC HiFi. Explore new records daily from our growing collection of classics and rarities from around the world. Discover the stories behind the records. Experience the ISC listening space from home through our (( ROOM RECORDING )) audio player below.

“To hear more, say less.”

Our website uses cookies
Read our privacy policy.

I Agree

Wandering Spirits: Beyond the World of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi

Written By: 
Phil Cho
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

Celebrating 50 years of Mwandishi with a retrospective on the albums beyond the group’s legendary trilogy.

Herbie Hancock’s electronics-heavy free jazz group Mwandishi has in recent years attained almost mythical status in the jazz world. The trilogy of albums they released in the early 70’s have become prized possessions among collectors, and many fans cite the group as one of their favourite ensembles. Musicians including Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin, and members of King Crimson all credit Mwandishi as a major influence on their work, and in November Nate Chinen and Greg Bryant dedicated an entire episode of their Jazz United podcast to the group.

Mwandishi, Crossings and Sextant have always been in heavy rotation at In Sheep’s Clothing. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Mwandishi’s self-titled debut album. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a short list of records beyond the group’s three releases. Each album on this list includes multiple members of the band and captures much of the same free, experimental energy that made the group’s music so special.


Pure Dynamite | Buddy Terry

Buddy Terry – Pure Dynamite (1972)

This album seems to be a bit slept-on but we think it ranks with the best of the fusion-leaning post-bop records of the early 70’s. Pure Dynamite features Mwandishi members Billy Hart, Buster Williams and Eddie Henderson along with a cast of fusion legends including Return to Forever bassist Stanley Clarke, Weather Report percussionist Airto Moreira and the great James Mtume (who was a major influence on the Mwandishi band). The psychedelic and free sound on this record reminds us a lot of early Mwandishi, just with busier brass textures and less tape echo.




Catalyst ‎– Perception (1973) - JazzRockSoul.com

Catalyst  ‎– Perception (1973)

“The Funkiest Band You Never Heard Of,” Catalyst was a jazz quartet from Philadelphia made up of Eddie Green (keyboards, vocals), Sherman Ferguson (drums, percussion, marimba), Odean Pope (sax, flute, oboe) and Tyrone Brown (bass). Many credit the group as being one of the earliest “fusion” bands. Their second album Perception is something of a rare groove holy grail and features Mwandishi members Billy Hart on percussion and Patrick Gleeson on ARP synthesizer. Check the opening track “Perception” for Gleeson’s signature whirling modulations.




Eddie Henderson ‎– Realization (1973)

Essentially an extension of the Mwandishi trilogy, Eddie Henderson’s Realization expands on the double drummer sound featured on “Ostinato (Suite For Angela)” off of Mwandishi’s debut. You’d think having two drummers playing would be a bit over the top, but Billy Hart and Lenny White in fact complement each other and succeed in adding a whole new dimension to the group. The two often play off of each other, setting up a sort of rhythmic call and response that at times creates an almost echo-like effect. It’s exhilarating, beautifully chaotic and perfectly in line with the Mwandishi vibe. The follow-up Inside Out is well-worth checking out as well.




Bennie Maupin – The Jewel In The Lotus album cover

Bennie Maupin – The Jewel In The Lotus (1974)

The most spiritual album on this list, The Jewel In The Lotus takes its name from the Buddhist chant “Om Mani Padme Hum” which centers on the journey and transformation of the lotus flower. Herbie Hancock, Bennie Maupin, and Buster Williams had all become lifelong adherents of Buddhist teachings by the end of the Mwandishi years and the influence is clear on this album. Pitchfork’s Shuja Haider wrote a brilliant piece on this album that you should check out here




Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love album cover

Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love (1974)

Recorded shortly after Mwandishi broke up, Love, Love continues right where the group left off with two long tracks of deep, twisted avant-garde fusion. The Mwandishi tradition of adopting Swahili names continues here with “new” members “Nyimbo” Henry Franklin, “Mguanda” David Johnson, and “Bayete” Umbra Zindiko. Franklin’s repeating bass groove on the title track makes this possibly the funkiest release on ECM, while Return to Forever’s Bill Connors adds a new flavor to the Mwandishi sound with his shrieking guitar.




Buster Williams documentary. - Jazz In Print - Periodicals, Books,  Newspapers, etc... - organissimo forums

Buster Williams ‎– Pinnacle (1975)

Similar to Love Love, Pinnacle by bassist Buster Williams is another Mwandishi “continued” album, but perhaps in spirit only. Mwandishi drummer Billy Hart joins in here, but Williams brings in new players such as pianist “Onaje” Allan Gumbs and vocalist Suzanne Klewan to present a fresh perspective to the Mwandishi sound. The result is a bit more structured and soulful, but still complete magic. We’re especially into Onaje’s cosmic, echo-heavy keyboard work on opener “The Hump.” 


Related Articles

Sort By
2020
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Greenberg
Alice Coltrane
Amazon Music
Ambient
Anatolian Rock
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Art
Art & Design
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Arthur Russell
Article
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Balearic
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bayou Funk
BBC
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Big Band
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Bob Marley
Boogie
books
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Cabaret
CAN
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Casio
Cassette
CD
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Choral
City Pop
Classical
Compass Point
Compilation
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cosmic
Cosmic Folk
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
Daft Punk
Dance
Dancehall
Dark Entries
David Bowie
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Dennis Bovell
Detroit
Devotional
Dick Verdult
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
Documentary
Don Cherry
Downtempo
Dream House
Dream Pop
Drone
Drum Break
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dub
dublab
Dubwise
Düsseldorf School
Early Electronic
East African
ECM
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Field recording
Fingertracks
Fishing with John
Floating
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fourth World
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Funk
Fusion
G.S. Schray
Garage Rock
Gospel
Graphic Novel
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Highlife
Hip Hop
history
Holiday
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
IDM
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
instock
Instrumental
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Isolation
Italy
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japanese
Jazz
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Fahey
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keith Haring
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kosmische
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Mad Professor
Marantz
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Metal
Milford Graves
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mizell Brothers
Modal
Modern Classical
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
Music from Memory
Mwandishi
Narrative
New Age
New Wave
News
Nina Simone
Noise
Northern Soul
Now Sound
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
Organic
Outsider Pop
Painting with John
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
PBS
Percussion
Piano
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Political
Pop
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Power Pop
Premiere
Private Press
Productions
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Psychedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
R&B
Radio
Rare Groove
rca victor
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reissue
Reissues
Remix
Rock
Room Recordings
Roots Reggae
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Samba
Samples
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Sensual
Shamisen
Shoegaze
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Songwriting
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South African
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Streaming
Street Soul
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Suzanne Cianni
Synth
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tapes
Techno
Techno Pop
Television
The Broad
The World Stage
Third Stream
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
TV
Vanity Fair
Video
Vintage
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Water
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
World
Yacht Rock
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
Zither
ISCHiFi ((ROOM RECORDING))
0:00 / 0:00
0:00
0:00