Herbie Hancock: Magic Number
Herbie Hancock (keyboards)
Magic Windows (Columbia 486582)
Sylvester, Jeanie Tracy (vocals), Freddie Washington (bass), John Robinson (drums).
Composed by Herbie Hancock, Jeff Cohen & David Rubinson.
Recorded: San Francisco, CA, early 1981
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
"Magic Number" is one of Herbie Hancock's better vocal recordings. Featuring sexy bass singing by disco diva Sylvester and scratchy funk guitar patterns by Ray Parker Jr. of "Ghostbusters" fame, the track is radio ready, with big-budget production that should have competed with larger sellers by Earth, Wind & Fire and the Commodores. In fact, the recording sounds like it could have been cut by either of those groups, with the common link between them and Herbie being their heavy jazz orientations. At 3:30, Parker's guitar sounds as if it formed the basis of every subsequent Prince recording. Then Herbie takes over with some minor-chord Latin jazz stamped by his distinctive altered voicings. His unmistakable style forms the basis of the entire second half of the tune, yet there is a lingering strangeness that results from hearing him combine more traditional R&B and funk elements with sounds straight out of the Miles Davis Quintet songbook. It all sits together well, though, making it regrettable that this recording has been universally ignored since its release. It is ultra slick and a great example of wide-ranging stylistic fusion by a master musician who defies categorization.
Reviewer: Marcus Singletary