Head Hunters: The Making of Jazz's First Platinum Album
". . . [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 ". . . 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, author of Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s
"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, author of Interpreting Popular Music, and The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates
"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
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. It was also the first jazz album to go platinum, and the best-selling jazz record of all time to that point.
The album became a turning point for a radical shift in both the production and reception of jazz. The sales numbers were unprecedented, 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 it was all at a cost. 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.
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