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Why did Harvey Mason leave Herbie's Headhunters?


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Was just thinking about this the other day. Why did Harvey Mason and Herbie part ways after Head Hunters (the album), and why was he "replaced" with Mike Clark soon afterwards? It just seemed he was the perfect fit for the style - even the "jazzier" tracks - so I'm wondering why they never again worked together.

 

Was it just a case of him (Mason) being too busy to be a part of a touring group, it was just a studio thing...was there bad blood...was HH looking for a different sound or what...?

 

I've actually met Mike Clark but don't recall him talking about it that much... Obviously his playing on Thrust is also legendary and also a perfect fit, I'm not saying that.

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Mason parted ways with Hancock over money. The Brothers Johnson offered more cash plus more autonomy. I read in an interview that Mason said Herbie wanted things played a certain way. Sort of implying that he left for more artistic freedom. I'm sure that's part of it but I do believe money was the main factor.
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I hope there aren't any hard feelings about it, because Harvey leaving got us Mike's iconic Actual Proof groove.

 

Which led me to AP's precursor, "The Spook Who Sat By the Door", Herbie's soundtrack for the film of the same name and iirc released on a "flexi disk" maybe by Keyboard Magazine! I'm curious if it's Mike on this earlier version, or is this Harvey?

 

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T57K4Ft9hY

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Mason parted ways with Hancock over money. The Brothers Johnson offered more cash plus more autonomy. I read in an interview that Mason said Herbie wanted things played a certain way. Sort of implying that he left for more artistic freedom. I'm sure that's part of it but I do believe money was the main factor.

 

thats good info. Harvey still contributed to other HH tracks, at least 1 or 2 songs per album:

 

With Herbie Hancock

 

Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973)

Man-Child (Columbia, 1975)

Sunlight (Columbia, 1978)

Mr. Hands (Columbia, 1980)

Mr. Funk (2001)

 

But really, what an impressive and prolific musician Mason is. He did not lack for any work outside of a Herbie album:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Mason

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Alright... yet another New Jersey bad boy. Harvey Mason was born in Atlantic City NJ according to Wikipedia.

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We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Mason parted ways with Hancock over money. The Brothers Johnson offered more cash plus more autonomy. I read in an interview that Mason said Herbie wanted things played a certain way. Sort of implying that he left for more artistic freedom. I'm sure that's part of it but I do believe money was the main factor.

 

This should read The Brothers Johnson WERE ABLE TO OFFER more cash.....as far as the autonomy part, thats spurious. Whered you get your info? Or, more importantly, your interpretation of the information you got a hold of smacks of the telephone game.

 

OF COURSE the Brothers J offered Mase more cash because they had a bigger budget!!

Conversely, Herbie was NOT able to match that offer!!

 

I know at least 4 people whove worked with Herbie long term and they tell an entirely different story both about their creative experiences (and HOW Herbie directed them) and about Mase.

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[video:youtube]

 

On the movie track "The Spook Who Sat By the Door" disoriented me, with the pitch.

It could be the recording from youtube distorting pitch.

Anyone here know what seems out of tune on the movie score of "The Spook Who Sat By the Door"?

 

Re the pitch: I provided the video for comparison sake. Both great performances though.

 

All of that aside, these two recordings are every bit as musically valid as straight jazz music.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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[video:youtube]

 

So... Which Stubblefield beat is he doing when he "quotes" it at around 1:13? I hear lots of drummers play a similar rhythm, and when I listen to "funky drummer" I hear that in parts, but that's not actually how Clyde plays it (second half of this vid, but don't skip "Cold Sweat"):

 

[video:youtube]

 

Stubblefield on "Funky Drummer" does change things up a bit throughout the song, so perhaps the way Mike plays it is in there someplace, but I think he's playing what he hears too. I skipped around the song a bit but couldn't find something that matches what Mike's playing:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Mike is a monster drummer, but IMO what he's playing isn't quite a "Stubblefield" thing -- the hi-hat is pretty much straight 16ths, for instance, and Stubblefield does more complex patterns. Anyways, that's my funk OCD fix for the day...

 

EDIT: "Funky Drummer" is interesting to me because of the difference in what my ear hears, how it's played, and the resulting feel. I've tried it a few times by ear and ended up in the same spot -- playing swung 16ths on the hat, not getting the kick drum pattern right w.r.t. the other parts of the beat, and so on. So, my ear hears it as A, I play it as A, but the feel comes out as B instead of A.

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[video:youtube]

 

thats cool. Interesting drum beats and different patterns are a big deal for me.

 

I like how MC gives credit to Stubbs as the inspiration behind his drum pattern , since MC sounds more complex/interesting to my ears. I have admired MC for quite a while and it helps to see his breakdown .

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out ?

My Soundcloud with many originals:

[70's Songwriter]

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Which led me to AP's precursor, "The Spook Who Sat By the Door", Herbie's soundtrack for the film of the same name and iirc released on a "flexi disk" maybe by Keyboard Magazine! I'm curious if it's Mike on this earlier version, or is this Harvey?

 

To me, the drummer's playing sounds more like Harvey Mason than Mike Clark, but I think it is indeed Clark and the Thrust band (though I might be wrong...). Tthe tune and the main groove just hadn't been fully formed yet, and therefore their playing is a tad different...

 

You're right, on the "flexidisk" which I also have somewhere ("Herbie demonstrates the Rhodes piano" - Discogs ) there is indeed the track "The Spook", which is an early take on the movie version.

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You're right, on the "flexidisk" which I also have somewhere ("Herbie demonstrates the Rhodes piano" - Discogs ) there is indeed the track "The Spook", which is an early take on the movie version.

The flexidisk is on youtube and I just listened to it. The excerpt of "Spook" appears to be from the movie soundtrack version, not a separate version recorded for the flexidisk. And I've searched a bit for any mention of personnel on this disk (or the soundtrack album) with no success, although one commenter seems sure it's Harvey.

 

(I can't link to a specific time in the video here on KC it's at 3:40)

 

[video:youtube]

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Mike Clark has mentioned the pay he got from Herbie Hancock in a Youtube interview. As I recall he said he was offered 400 dollars per week in 1974.

 

Harvey Mason was quickly becoming a major session player at this time, after recordings with Herbie and Quincy Jones ( Mellow Madness). He was probably making at least 400 dollars a day or more.

 

For what Herbie did on THRUST, Mike was the perfect choice.

 

Mike is one of my favorite people to listen to in an interview situation. He does an hour plus on the " I'd Hit That" Podcast series on You Tube. Also check out his commentaries on Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. A fascinating story teller.

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