Pianist/composer, Herbie Hancock
a child prodigy in his native Chicago, has been on the cutting edge of Jazz since he joined Miles Davis' influential
'60s Quintet. From composition to improvisation, Hancock remains
quintessential, breaking ground in video and synthesizer experimentation as
well. In the mid '60s, Hancock recorded a seminal entry in his musical
portfolio. In this edition, George Lane revisits Maiden Voyage.
Maiden Voyage is brilliant pianist/composer Herbie Hancock's fifth recording as a leader, all for Blue Note. With a couple of "hit" tracks ('Watermelon Man' and 'Cantaloupe Island'), on earlier recordings, Hancock had established himself as a leader. But his outstanding work on many Blue Note sessions, and especially his long stint with Miles Davis made him a sideman extraordinaire. This record was highly instrumental in changing that.
Utilizing his fellow Miles sidemen - George Coleman on tenor sax, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on percussion, and subbing Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Hancock created a classic album. The five beautifully textured originals all show his great skill for creating subtly complex compositions that allow great harmonic and rhythmic freedom without ever losing continuity or structure.
After working together so often for years (with Miles and on numerous other projects), the rhythm section had developed a rapport and sensitivity that rightfully place it among the greatest in jazz history. This CD contains some of their best work, with Carter's solid, focused play contrasting perfectly with Williams' singing cymbal work and liberated sense of ethereal swing. Whether collectively improvising as a trio or supporting the superb soloing, it's sheer perfection. And such wonderful soloing! Hancock's beautifully structured work and Coleman's forthright and vibrant improvisations are just slightly topped by Hub's incredible trumpet playing, especially his classic solo on the title cut.
From the gentle thrust of the beautiful (now a standard) 'Maiden Voyage' and the gorgeous 'Dolphin Dance' to the intricate and moody 'Little One,' to the more aggressive edginess of 'Survival of the Fittest' and 'The Eye of the Hurricane,' there's a sense of ease and gentility all through this date that in no way diminishes the rich intensity contained on every cut.
This CD is a pure gem.
Buy Herbie Hancock's CDs here.