Herbie Hancock: Dolphin Dance


Dolphin Dance


Herbie Hancock (piano)


Maiden Voyage (Blue Note 95331)

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Herbie Hancock (piano), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), George Coleman (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums).

Composed by Herbie Hancock


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., March 17, 1965


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

I marvel not just at the quality, but also at the impressive range of Hancock's work for the Blue Note label during the 1960s, which delved into everything from soul jazz to the avant-garde. And at the midpoint of the decade, Hancock offered up his now classic Maiden Voyage album, featuring a world-class band (essentially the Miles Davis Quintet with Freddie Hubbard stepping in for Miles) and some of the finest writing of his career. "Dolphin Dance" is my favorite Hancock composition, an impressionistic mood piece with very creative chord changes. He settles in at a difficult tempo, just a little too fast for a ballad, but not fast enough to swing the rhythm. Many other jazz ensembles falter at these betwixt and between tempos, but Hancock and cohorts float effortlessly like . . . well, I imagine, like dolphins at a dance. The pianist was now working with textures of sound rather than recycling the typical modern jazz harmonies. The ultimate hard-bop pianist was showing that he could move far beyond the confines of the genre. He might have spent another decade mining this rich vein of material, evolving into the Ravel or Debussy of jazz. But for Herbie Hancock this was just one more stopping point on a restless journey toward the next new thing.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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