Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Album Review: The Headhunters - Live from Brooklyn Bowl

The Headhunters
Live From Brooklyn Bowl
*** out of *****

The legendary funk/jazz/fusion outfit The Headhunters are still at it, with original members Bill Summers (percussion) and Mike Clark (drums) leading the band on a 50th anniversary world tour in 2023. To commemorate this milestone the group recorded their stop at Brooklyn Bowl in early January, releasing this live album. 

While nowhere near essential, Live From Brooklyn Bowl is a testimony to this bands grooving ways. Herbie Hancock is not present but the original members are supported by some of the best doing it today with the legend himself Donald Harrison playing alto sax, the energetic Kyle Roussel (Preservation Hall Jazz Band) on keys, and Chris Severin (Dr. John) holding down the bass. This core, some of New Orleans finest, pumps lively energy into all the tracks presented here. 

The funky big bass and percussion opens the live album with "Four String Drive" as Harrison's alto work is magical, shining with majestic power., a mid song break and piano solo to close kicks things off proper. "Rocking In The Mole House" from the band's 2022 release Speakers In The House, starts off with Roussel's soft piano intro and you can hear the bowling balls hitting the pins, a reoccurring theme whenever the band gets quite, pulling attention away from the music, but certainly speaking to the time and place.       

After some introductions Harrison again shines with a solo on "Headhunters Jam" while "Butterfly" is smooth jazz that flirts with easy listening before percussion and piano kick up the energy to end. The band's classic "Watermelon Man" is smooth as silk as the group expertly delivers the goods while "Loft Funk" is a solo showcase highlighted by Severin's bass outings and Clark's drumming. 

Editing on the album is a bit odd as the group fades into a energetic version of "Chameleon" with the spritely funk kicking around the venue while the fantastic show closing "Hey Pocky A-way" also fades out with Harrison still in full vocals flight. These editing choices and the random crash of pins makes this release feel just a step above a fan recording, but when The Headhunters are in full flight on Live From Brooklyn Bowl the energy is palpable and worth seeking out.  
Support the artists, buy the album see them live (like we did in October) and peep some video below:

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