Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda (1969)

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Herbie Hancock
FAT ALBERT ROTUNDA
Released 1969 on Warner Brothers (WS 1834)
CD Reissue WEA Germany

1. Wiggle-Waggle (Hancock) – 5:51
2. Fat Mama (Hancock) – 3:49
3. Tell Me a Bedtime Story (Hancock) – 5:01
4. Oh! Oh! Here He Comes (Hancock) – 4:08
5. Jessica (Betts/Hancock) – 4:13
6. Fat Albert Rotunda (Hancock) – 6:29
7. Lil’ Brother (Hancock) – 4:26

* Herbie Hancock – Synthesizer, Piano, Arranger, Conductor, Keyboards, Piano (Electric)
* Johnny Coles – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Horn
* Joe Henderson – Flute (Alto), Sax (Tenor)
* Garnett Brown – Trombone
* Joe Farrell – Sax (Tenor)
* Eric Gale – Guitar
* Buster Williams – Bass, Percussion, Bass (Electric), Bass (Acoustic)
* Billy Hart – Percussion, Drums
* Albert “Tootie” Heath – Drums
* Rudy Van Gelder – Engineer

*#*#*# He doesn’t receive an album credit, but the ubiquitous Bernard “Pretty” Purdie is on the drum-kit for Wiggle Waggle.

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poem from the album liner notes

FAT ALBERT ROTUNDA was Herbie Hancock’s first record cut for Warner Brothers, and a big departure from The Prisoner, his last album for Blue Note and first away from Miles Davis. It’s a phenomenal album, populated with pieces of sweaty soul-jazz and funk that presages the funk fusion approach he would explore further in the early to mid-70 alongside more spacious compositions that would fit anywhere in his catalog as Hancockian. For a long time I had been confused about this album because I knew from experience that its release date was a bit too early to coincide with the famous Fat Albert TV series that brightened my Saturday mornings as a young tyke. Now having done a little research, I know that the music here was composed and recorded at Bill Cosby’s bequest for a television special featuring Fat Albert and most or all of the characters of the future TV cartoon. If anyone knows where I can find a copy of that special, please speak up as I would give up my funkiest polyester to see it. The record is dominated by the inimitable Wurlitzer work of Hancock and the punchy horn riffs of Joe Henderson, Johnny Coles, Joe Farrel, and Garnett Brown. The first two tracks are just monsters, in particular Fat Mama. Buster Williams alternates between electric and upright bass on this album, transitioning smoothly as the songs demand. “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” could have been an outtake from Maiden Voyage and yet it doesn’t particularly clash with the other material. The record also sports Eddie Gale on guitar who would lone his talents to Roberta Flack this same year. This is a singular edition to Herbie Hancock’s discography, atypical and yet still emblematic of him at his best, and one of my personal favorites.

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