Secrets: The Jazz-Funk Fusion Masterpiece by Herbie Hancock
Secrets is the seventeenth album by keyboardist and composer Herbie Hancock, released in 1976. It is one of his most successful and influential albums, blending jazz, funk, and soul music with synthesizers and electric guitars. Secrets features saxophonist Bennie Maupin and guitarist Wah Wah Watson, who contributed to the writing and production of the album. The album contains seven tracks, including a remake of Hancock's 1964 classic \"Cantaloupe Island\" and the hit single \"Doin' It\".
In this article, we will explore the secrets behind Secrets, how it was recorded, what makes it unique, and why it is still relevant today.
The Making of Secrets
Secrets was recorded in San Francisco, California, in 1976. Hancock had already established himself as a pioneer of jazz-funk fusion with his previous albums Head Hunters (1973), Thrust (1974), and Man-Child (1975). He had also formed a tight-knit band with Maupin, Jackson, Clark, and Summers, who played on those albums. However, for Secrets, Hancock decided to make some changes. He replaced Clark with James Gadson on drums and Summers with Kenneth Nash on percussion. He also invited Watson, a Motown session guitarist who had worked with Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, to join the band.
Watson's role was crucial for the sound of Secrets. He added his signature wah-wah effects, rhythmic patterns, and funky riffs to Hancock's keyboard layers. He also co-wrote four of the seven tracks on the album: \"Doin' It\", \"People Music\", \"Spider\", and \"Gentle Thoughts\". Watson also helped produce the album along with Hancock and David Rubinson.
Hancock used a variety of keyboards and synthesizers on Secrets, including acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, electric grand piano, ARP Odyssey, ARP String Ensemble, Hohner D6 Clavinet, Micromoog, Oberheim 4 Voice, and Echoplex. He experimented with different sounds and textures, creating ambient pads, funky grooves, and melodic hooks. He also recomposed his old tune \"Cantaloupe Island\" into a slower and smoother version with a Caribbean feel.
Maupin played soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, saxello, lyricon, and bass clarinet on Secrets. He provided most of the solos on the album, showcasing his versatility and expressiveness. He also wrote the closing track \"Sansho Shima\", a mellow and atmospheric piece that features his lyricon playing.
Jackson played bass on Secrets, holding down the groove and adding his own flair to the arrangements. He co-wrote three tracks with Hancock and Watson: \"People Music\", \"Spider\", and \"Swamp Rat\". He also played a prominent role in the live performances of the album.
Gadson played drums on only one track on Secrets: \"Doin' It\". He also sang backing vocals on that track along with Parker Jr. Gadson was a renowned funk drummer who had worked with Bill Withers, Quincy Jones, and The Jackson 5. His drumming added a danceable beat to Hancock's fusion sound.
Nash played percussion on Secrets, adding some spice and color to the rhythm section. He was a veteran percussionist who had worked with jazz legends like Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, and Eddie Harris. He also played on Hancock's next album V.S.O.P. (1977).
The Tracks of Secrets
Secrets contains seven tracks that range from upbeat funk to laid-back jazz. Here is a brief overview of each track:
\"Doin' It\" is the opening track and the only single from Secrets. It is a catchy and funky tune that features Watson's guitar riffs, Hancock's clavinet grooves, Maupin's saxophone solos,
and Gadson's drumming. It is also one of Hancock's most sampled songs by hip-hop artists like LL Cool J,
Big Daddy Kane,
and De La Soul.
\"People Music\" is a mid-tempo jazz-funk track that features Hancock's electric grand piano soloing over Watson's guitar patterns and Maupin ec8f644aee