On this day in music history: June 15, 1978 – “Sunlight”, the eighteenth studio album by Herbie Hancock is released. Produced by Herbie Hancock and David Rubinson, it is recorded at The Automatt, Different Fur Trading Co. in San Francisco, CA and The Village Recorder in Los Angeles, CA from August 1977 – May 1978. Following collaborations with his former Miles Davis band mates Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard under the name V.S.O.P., Herbie Hancock shifts musical gears once again. A tireless innovator always in search of new musical avenues to explore, Hancock merges his stellar jazz chops with more mainstream R&B, pop and disco sounds on his next release. For “Sunlight”, Hancock assembles a group of top musicians to back him including Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, Harvey Mason, Tony Williams (drums), “Wah Wah” Watson, Ray Parker, Jr. (guitars), Jaco Pastorius, Byron Miller, Paul Jackson (bass), Bennie Maupin, Ernie Watts (saxophone), Bill Summers and Raul Rekow (percussion). The first album to feature him singing, it also marks the beginning of Hancock’s use of the Sennheiser Vocoder VSM 201 heard prominently on the first single “I Thought It Was You” (#85 R&B), becoming a key element of his sound throughout the rest of the 70’s and well into the 80’s. To promote the single in clubs, Columbia Records in the US issues a promotional 12" of the song (b/w the title track), featuring a unique edit that to date has never been released anywhere else. This promo has become a sought after collector’s item by fans in later years. The jazz/funk fusion and disco flavored sound of “I Thought”, while drawing a mixed reaction from his more straight ahead traditional jazz audience, it brings the prolific musician a newer and younger audience that embraces the new sound. Hancock also re-records “I Thought It Was You” again in 1979 with Japanese vocalist Kimiko Kasai for the album “Butterfly”, released exclusively in Japan. In and out of print for many years, the album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 as part of the career spanning box set “The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988”. “Sunlight” peaks at number three on the Billboard Jazz album chart, number thirty one on the R&B album chart, and number fifty eight on the Top 200.
Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228