Today, The Headhunters release Speakers In The House, the legendary jazz-funk ensemble's first new album in 11 years. Co-lead by percussionist Bill Summers and drummer Mike Clark with support from NEA Jazz Master Donald Harrison on alto saxophone, The Headhunters latest studio effort arrives just in time to celebrate this American music institution's 50th anniversary in 2023, having formed around Herbie Hancock's classic recording, Head Hunters, in 1973. An eight-track set available on Ropeadope Records, highlights from Speakers In The House include the New Orleans' second-line grooves of "Rocking At The Mole House," the world music-influenced jazz-fusion of "Kongo Square" and a modern post-bop re-imagination of the classic Headhunters' composition "Actual Proof," first released on their 1974 album, Thrust. Joining Summers, Clark and Harrison for the recording are keyboardist Stephen Gordon and bassist Reggie Washington plus special guests Jerry Z on organ, One Drop aka Scott Roberts on drums, Fode Sissoko on Kora and Ashlin Parker on trumpet.
Few bands can boast a history as fortuitous and storied as The Headhunters. That history began back in 1973 when iconic musician Herbie Hancock formed the band featuring saxophonist/clarinetist Bennie Maupin, bassist Paul Jackson Jr., drummer Harvey Mason and percussionist Bill Summers. What each member of The Headhunters brought to the table helped forge a timeless legacy and history that most bands can only dream of. Their blend of jazz with funk and rock would go on to sell over a million albums worldwide, while the band's legacy would inspire musicians of every genre for years to come, be sampled by various hip-hop artists throughout the '80s and '90s, and influence countless musicians' styles of playing today.
The Headhunters impact remains a global phenomenon, and their time with Hancock proved to be a life changing experience. The band has released six more full-length albums including Thrust in 1974 with the addition of drummer Mike Clark, and stepping out on their own sans Hancock's involvement on Survival of the Fittest in 1975 and on Straight from the Gate in 1977.
Following sold out shows earlier this Fall in San Francisco and Seattle, The Headhunters plan to tour throughout 2023 with new dates to be announced shortly. The current line-up features percussionist Bill Summers, drummer Mike Clark, bassist Chris Severin, saxophonist Donald Harrison and pianist Kyle Roussel.
"What Bill and I and The Headhunters do is experience the moment and explore," explains Mike Clark. "We're not in a gym, this isn't a competition. This is art. We’re in that moment and there is no other. The Headhunters is an act of passion, of love for humanity, and for our planet."
"We live this every day. We have some secrets to give to the youth of the world. We’re not musicians, we are physicians. We heal people," adds Bill Summers. "We've always made a statement as The Headhunters. Every time we've dropped notes on wax, it's had value and the ability to positively influence people and change lives."
Speakers In The House
1. Kongo Square
2. Rocking At The Mole House
3. HH 75
4. Over The Bar
7. Actual Proof
8. Stop Watch