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(NOTE TO EDITORS: High-quality digital images of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters are available for downloading through the Verve Records site on the World Wide Web:

Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters bring classic jazz-funk fusion to UI Oct. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters will bring their classic jazz-funk fusion to the University of Iowa, as Hancher Auditorium and SCOPE present them in concert at

8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 in Hancher. The band is touring in support of their new CD, "Return of the Headhunters," the first Headhunters recording in more than 20 years.

Keyboardist Hancock, who is an alumnus of Grinnell College in electrical engineering, has negotiated one of the most successful "crossover" careers in contemporary music. He was a sideman to trumpeter Donald Byrd and saxophone legends Coleman Hawkins, Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson before scoring his first Top Ten hit, "Watermelon Man."

He came to wider prominence as a member of Miles Davis' influential mid-'60s quintet with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter, and while continuing to release his own mainstream acoustic recordings he remained with Davis through the first stirrings of electro-jazz fusion.

While Davis is regarded as one of the founding fathers of fusion, it was Hancock who set the landmark for the genre's popularity. "I was interested in a more fun kind of approach to combining funk and jazz," he explains. "Miles was very serious and very mysterious -- dark. I needed something more earthy, more fun."

His group Mwandishi experimented with combinations of acoustic instruments, African percussion and electronics in a series of acclaimed recordings. But his '70s high-water mark was the 1973 debut recording by his Headhunters band -- featuring Benny Maupin on reeds, Paul Jackson on bass, Mike Clark on drums and Bill Summers playing a variety of percussion -- which became the first jazz album in history to go gold and was the source of the hit track "Chameleon."

The album cover made the band's musical intentions clear by depicting Hancock wearing a hybrid of a traditional African mask and an electronic vu-meter (an image that is revived on the new CD).

The Headhunters went on to record three additional best-selling albums before the members went their separate ways.

Over the years Hancock's danceable pop music has incorporated contemporary elements from hip-hop and techno to acid jazz and progressive dance -- many of which were inspired, to some degree, by the vintage sound and funky beat of the Headhunters. His music bridged effortlessly into the MTV era, and his single "Rockit" even won a MTV Music Video award.

While riding the sort of pop fame that lands artists on "Sesame Street," "The Muppets," cable specials and other mass-media showcases, Hancock has always kept his "serious" jazz career in motion. He recorded and toured in acoustic duos with Chick Corea, he spearheaded the VSOP projects that evoked the post-bop Miles Davis music of the '60s, he composed music for films, and he recently released a CD tribute to Gershwin. His acoustic "1+1" recording with Wayne Shorter was one of the most critically acclaimed jazz recordings of 1997.

In all, Hancock has collected six Grammy Awards, an Oscar and countless music-magazine poll honors.

Although Hancock has worked with members of the Headhunters in recording projects, and they had worked with each other in various combinations, "Return of the Headhunters" is the first full re-union of the original band, and the inaugural release of Hancock Records, produced through Verve Records.

The new CD faithfully re-creates much of the original Headhunters sound, right down to the almost-antique sounds of the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the primitive synthesizer ("Headhunters" was the first recording on which Hancock used a synthesizer), while adding a variety of contemporary touches and pumping up the depth and impact of the sound with the advantages of contemporary recording technology.

To learn more about Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, visit the Verve Records site on the World Wide Web:

Tickets are $24 ($19.20 for senior citizens and $16 for UI students and youth). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office or the University Box Office in the Iowa Memorial Union.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

The University Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Dial (319) 335-3041 At the University Box Office up to six tickets may be charged on a UI student or staff ID. Purchases may be charged to VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express, but the University Box Office does not accept checks.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web.