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Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage CD (album) cover

MAIDEN VOYAGE

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.30 | 137 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage [1965]

Rating: 9/10

Not only is Maiden Voyage the peak of Herbie Hancock's early period, it is also one of the greatest jazz albums ever released. Although Herbie's 60s albums certainly do receive large amounts of acclaim within jazz circles, it seems like they're overshadowed by giants like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. This is unfortunate, considering that Maiden Voyage is a record of the same caliber as classics such as Sketches of Spain and My Favorite Things.

The quality of a jazz record is usually directly tied to the skill of its musicians, and this album is no exception. Featured is here is one of the strongest quintets ever assembled. Herbie himself sounds incredible, of course, but his performance is quite restrained, especially for a frontman. He does solo a few times, but his piano playing is mostly rhythmic; it is glue that keeps the rest of the band together. George Coleman plays some tasty tenor sax, and Ron Carter's subtle bass ties the music together in an even more seamless manner.

In terms of pure musicianship, however, there are two real stars here: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Tony Williams on drums. Hubbard's playing here is transcendental; there are few trumpet players, living or dead, who can get such a glorious tone out of the instrument. His solo in the title track is one of the most gorgeous things I've ever heard in jazz. Williams is an esteemed drummer, and his performance on this album demonstrates why. He moves past normal "ba-bum-tsh" jazz drumming, instead delivering an intricate and sophisticated performance that adds another layer of complexity to the music.

Although this is a pure hard-bop record that bears little resemblance to the long-form fusion of Crossings or the electro-funk of Head Hunters, this is not album bereft of progressive sensibilities. The layers of instrumentation on each piece are nothing short of astounding, and the complexity of the arrangements moves beyond what normal for jazz up to this point. Maiden Voyage is a jazz classic in every sense of the term; every element of the music, from the composition itself to the beautiful musicianship, is executed nearly flawlessly. This is essential listening for anybody even slightly interested in jazz.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |

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