Picks and Pans Review: Future Shock
When pianist Hancock released Headhunters in 1973, he helped put pop-funk dance music on the charts, but he also dismayed jazz purists who revered him as a Miles Davis alum and as one of the most harmonically creative keyboard artists of the '60s. In the decade since, the jazz world has remained ambivalent: Hancock has played enough first-rate jazz to keep his credentials from expiring, but his pop albums have become increasingly saccharine and formulaic. Future Shock, however, is his first pop disc since Headhunters that throbs with immediacy. Hancock has caught up with what's happening in black dance music: electronics and the rhythms of rap. Aided to a large degree by co-producers Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn (whose own band, Material, is one of the most adventurous and progressive funk groups around), Hancock has fashioned a blipping, beeping, hyperpercussive dance hit in Rockit. It features a crisp, nimble bass line, spacey organlike swells and the whish-whoosh turntable manipulations of the ace rap deejay Grand Mixer D.ST. Although the six cuts don't blaze the kind of trail Headhunters did, they at least return Hancock to the pop front lines, where a performer of his stature belongs.