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Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1971[1]
RecordedJanuary 1971
Wally Heider Recording Studio C, San Francisco
GenreAvant-garde jazz, jazz fusion, free jazz
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerDavid Rubinson
Herbie Hancock chronology
Fat Albert Rotunda
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic5/5 stars [2]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide3/5 stars[3]

Mwandishi is the ninth album by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, released in 1971.


It is one of Hancock's first departures from the traditional idioms of jazz as well as the onset of a new, creative and original style which produced an appeal to a wider audience, before his 1973 album, Head Hunters. In addition, Mwandishi was Hancock's attempt at continuing the musical principles and styles he began playing with Miles Davis on In A Silent Way. Hancock's previous attempts at Jazz fusion included Fat Albert Rotunda, an album conceived TV special ‘’Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert’’, which later inspired Bill Cosby's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

Mwandishi was recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, in San Francisco, California in January 1971. It was originally recorded by the Mwandishi Sextet that was built around Herbie Hancock and progressive notions of funk, jazz, and rock during this time period.

The tracks on Mwandishi are "Ostinato," the time signature of which is 15/8, "You'll Know When You Get There", and "Wandering Spirit Song". "Wandering Spirit Song" features Hancock's extensive use of tension and release, whereby he builds the tension of the song by increasing the amount of musical voices and increasing crescendos, only to release the tension with long held out chords on his synthesizer.

Mwandishi is a Swahili name Hancock adopted during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The members of the Sextet each adopted a Swahili name: Mchezaji/Buster Williams, Jabali/Billy Hart, Mganga/Eddie Henderson, Mwile/Bennie Maupin, Pepo Mtoto/Julian Priester, and Ndugu/Leon Chancler.

Release history[edit]

Mwandishi, along with Fat Albert Rotunda and Crossings, was reissued in one set as Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings in 1994 [4] and as The Warner Bros. Years (1969-1972) in 2014 [5].

Track listing[edit]

All songs composed by Herbie Hancock except where noted.

1."Ostinato (Suite for Angela)" 13:10
2."You'll Know When You Get There" 10:22
3."Wandering Spirit Song"Julian Priester21:26




  1. ^ Billboard Mar 20, 1971
  2. ^ Mwandishi at AllMusic
  3. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 94. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  4. ^
  5. ^