HERBIE HANCOCK — Maiden Voyage

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HERBIE HANCOCK - Maiden Voyage cover
4.52 | 44 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1965

Filed under Post Bop


A1 Maiden Voyage
A2 The Eye Of The Hurricane
A3 Little One
B1 Survival Of The Fittest
B2 Dolphin Dance

Total Time: 42:05


- Herbie Hancock / Piano
- Freddie Hubbard / Trumpet
- George Coleman / Tenor saxophone
- Ron Carter / Bass
- Tony Williams / drums

About this release

Blue Note – BLP 4195

Recorded on March 17, 1965, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Thanks to snobb, js, darkshade, Abraxas for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.

Members reviews

First of all, I'd like to say that I got this album last Christmas and it remained in my car's CD player for six months. There's definitely a sense of magic to it.

This album is a very healthy combination of cool jazz, modal jazz, post-bop, and even has a slight tinge of avant-garde on the "Survival of the Fittest" track. Although this album was recorded around the time Herbie Hancock was playing with Miles Davis, Hancock's improvisation is slightly less aggressive. In this album, a good deal of his solos ("The Eye of the Hurricane" being an exception) have lyrical qualities to them rather than long, fast phrases. In "Survival of the Fittest" he actually almost abandons the jazz solo sound and starts pounding out phrases that sound like something from a 20th century classical piano piece.

The track "Maiden Voyage" is possibly the most memorable of the whole album. Every time I listen to it I am amazed at how well the musicians are able to keep time. To enhance the spacey feel of the track, Tony Williams frequently changes his drum rhythms from triplets to straight eighths to quarter note triplets in unexpected ways. It really confuses me while listening and I have trouble finding beat one. During Freddie Hubbard and Hancock's solos there are moments even more out-of-time where the soloist plays a fast, light impressionistic pattern and the rhythm section leaves the tempo all together to join in the dreamy feel.

Definitely one of the best jazz albums of all time.
Sean Trane
Maybe Hancock’s first solo album, Maiden Voyage bears the reputation of being one of Herbie’s best, but I personally beg to differ. Sure, it’s an album that’s well within the standard jazz of the times, somewhere between Miles’ second quintet, Andrew Hill’s effort, Donald Byrd, Wayne Shorter or Freddie Hubbard’s albums. But we’re nowhere close to the avant-garde of Trane, Cherry or Coleman. In fact, we’re on a typical and veeeery-standard Blue Note album, despite the greenish upper bar on the album’s artwork. Armed with the afore-mentioned Hubbard, and the Miles sidekicks such as Williams and Carter, we also find the other Coleman (George) on the sax. Opening on the 8-mins title track, the standard jazz is dominated (as you’d expect) by Herbie’s piano, but Hubbard’s trumpet plays more than a second fiddle, because it does give about 95% of the track’s charm. The boppy Eye Of The Strom appears to have been recorded in a teacup, but it certainly won’t shatter your musical world or even rock your boat much. Almost ill-titled, it’s just a hard-bop tune that just bores me to sleep. Speaking of sleep, the ultra-slow (at first, anyway) Little One is an obvious lullaby that will hit the bull’s eye halfway through its duration, thus overstaying its welcome for the second half, even if I find it more interesting than anything on the rest of the A-side. The flipside opens on the much-more adventurous 10-mins Survival Of The Fittest, with Williams’ drum solo after the first minute, but the adventure is anything but smooth-flowing and indeed will challenge your patience to endure it for the duration. The closing 9-mins Dolphin Dance is one of Hancock’s best-known and most-reprised composition, and it might indeed the album’s highlight with the title track.

Well, I guess I sound quite severe and harsh on what’s considered by many as Herbie’s finest album, because next to groundbreaking Trane albums of that year, HH’s can sound like almost-commercial mainstream pop-jazz (matter of speech, because it’s not “pop” at all). With all due respect to HH, he will hit the groundbreaking level with the Mwandishi albums a few years later, but in the meantime, he’s in the middle of the pack with his early solo efforts.

This is one of these records that will forever be listed on any "best jazz albums ever" rankings. No wonder - this IS a truly masterpiece and you can discover it from the very first notes.

First of all - this album is way different from many other hard-bop album typical for the 60's maistream jazz. It's not this kind of LP that only consist of simple jazz tunes with some good solos. What differs "Maiden Voyage" from other records are compositions. They mostly leave boring hard-bop pattern for something much more vivid, for some kind of jazz landscape.

The title track is a monument of the size of first part of "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane. In fact "Maiden Voyage" is Supreme. It's blisfull theme is so colorful that you can nearly see in your mind the maiden voyage, discovering brand new lands. Also interesting is the pleasent play of rhythm section that reminds the sound of sea in the morning or afternoon with calm waves splashing on the shore.

Second memorable track - The Eye of the Hurricane - is surely not as perfect as previous one, but the fiery hard-bop jam also suits the title. Also the last piece, a nice ballad entitled "Dolphin Dance" became quickly a jazz standard.

Hancock shows that he is not "only" capable of composing hard-bop and "new-school" composition, but also a bit of his free-jazz or modern explorations with a track "Survival Of The Fittest". Within few years he will completly leave mainstream for extremely original directions. But still many other young artist and Hancock himself goes back to his brilliant music from "Maiden Voyage" to constatly search for news direction, new lands, new sounds.

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