From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1971[1]
RecordedJanuary 1971
StudioWally Heider (San Francisco)
GenreJazz fusion, avant-garde jazz
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerDavid Rubinson
Herbie Hancock chronology
Fat Albert Rotunda
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic [2]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[3]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings[4]

Mwandishi is the ninth album by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, released in 1971. It is the first album to officially feature Hancock’s ‘Mwandishi’ sextet consisting of saxophonist Bennie Maupin, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, trombonist Julian Priester, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart.


This album is one of Hancock's first departures from the traditional idioms of jazz, as well as the beginning of an original and creative style which eventually appealed to a wider audience, e.g. in his 1973 album Head Hunters. In addition, Mwandishi was Hancock's attempt at continuing the musical principles and styles he explored in his previous experiences with Miles Davis, e.g. on In A Silent Way. Hancock's previous explorations of jazz fusion included Fat Albert Rotunda, an album related to the TV special ‘’Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert’’.

Mwandishi was recorded at Wally Heider Studios Studio C, in San Francisco, California in January 1971, by Hancock's Mwandishi Sextet. The recording incorporated progressive notions of funk, jazz, and rock.

The tracks on Mwandishi include "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, in which he builds the tension of the song by crescendos and an increasing number of musical voices, and then releases the tension with long held chords on his synthesizer.

Mwandishi ("composer") is the Swahili name Hancock adopted during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The members of the Sextet each adopted a Swahili name: Mchezaji ("player," someone who plays a game) for Buster Williams, Jabali ("strong as a rock") for Billy Hart, Mganga ("doctor," whose traditional functions include exorcism, prophecy, and the removal of spells) for Eddie Henderson, Mwile ("body", from Swahili mwili) for Bennie Maupin, Pepo Mtoto ("demon baby") for Julian Priester, and Ndugu ("brother") for 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 [5] and as The Warner Bros. Years (1969-1972) in 2014.[6]

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. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 641. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  5. ^ "Mwandishi: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings by Herbie Hancock - RYM/Sonemic".
  6. ^ "The Warner Bros. Years (1969-1972) by Herbie Hancock - RYM/Sonemic".