HERBIE HANCOCK — Maiden Voyage (review)

HERBIE HANCOCK — Maiden Voyage album cover Album · 1965 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Another triumph in thematics from Hancock.

Expanding the stellar line-up from his previous LP 'Empyrean Isles' this time around Hancock has included George Coleman on tenor sax and it fleshes out the sound nicely. It makes for an album that is perhaps a tiny bit less intimate than 'Empyrean Isles' but 'Maiden Voyage' is still one of his best works hands down.

Still pushing beyond hard bop, this time he tackles the ocean, embodied magnificently in the title track. It's a wondrous, instantly memorable tune, one that soars and dips over the waves, propelled by Williams' cymbal work and later one of Hancock's more beautiful solos.

Elsewhere the gentle mood of being on the ocean is continued in parts of 'Dolphin Dance' which breaks into playful soloing, or in 'Little One' with another fine sax solo kicking off around 2 minutes in. Moving into the hard bop sound, the album includes 'Eye of the Hurricane' and 'Survival of the Fittest' where things get choppy. Hubbard is firing and the other solos are just as frantic, though 'Eye' is probably more straight hard bop than 'Survival' (which takes its cue from another Hancock composition 'The Egg') and is a little freer. Thanks to its multi-section approach and extra brass, it also sounds fuller, revealing some dark moments on the waves.

Despite the high, high quality of everything here, I personally find the sum of the whole album to be just below the sum of his previous album, which sounds stronger song-for-song to my ears, and so I'm going with four stars. Having said that, this album is essential - I just happen to like 'Empyrean Isles' a little better.
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