Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

“Maiden Voyage” uses more static harmonic areas than a tune with a lot of fast moving changes. The first section moves from a D-suspended chord to an F-suspended chord, and the rhythmic feel is a cross between a straight eighth-note feel and a sort of Latin vibe. Instead of moving through a lot of harmonic changes, the song stays on these areas for a longer period of time. The way Herbie plays on it is less a question of lines than that he’s using the harmonic space as a springboard to play a great variety of musical ideas. Herbie's way of playing over the changes is so fresh, and the rhythmic feel is relaxed but intense at the same time. He's not playing through II-V-I standards harmony, or even bebop harmony. It’s much more of a modal thing. The song gives him time to flesh out ideas, some involving lines, and some of which are much more harmonic or rhythmic. I think that during this period when a lot of modal playing was happening, a lot of players were looking to slow down the harmonic movement of the tunes to allow a certain space to occur in order to allow a variety of melodic, rhythmic and textural ideas to develop within the solo. It’s not just playing lines over those chords, which could sound boring after a while. Herbie’s ideas follow each other logically, but there’s a feeling of contrast, of dialogue or a sort of discourse, where he presents one idea, then the next, and a story is being told. He’s also a very interactive player, and he’s feeding off of what’s happening in the rhythm section.

March 20, 2009 · 0 comments

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Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

"Maiden Voyage" stands out as a landmark of the Blue Note sound, and remains Herbie Hancock's finest composition. In the midst of a turbulent jazz scene, where musicians were restlessly exploring all of their options, Hancock always approached his recordings with a clear, holistic vision. Classic Hancock performances such as "Watermelon Man" or "Cantaloupe Island" would establish their identity in the introductory bars, and stick to the same course until they reached their chosen destination. The texture and ambiance of the music envelops the listener -- and the musicians too. If Freddie Hubbard ever took a hotter trumpet solo than on this recording, I haven't heard it. And all done with only four suspended chords -- but the 'hook' is in the vamp. One of the high points of 1960s jazz.

December 18, 2007 · 2 comments

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Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

At the time of this recording, Hancock, Carter and Williams served as the rhythm section for the Miles Davis Quintet. Since Coleman had just left the group the previous year, the four of them had developed a strong rapport, with Hubbard fitting in nicely. One of Hancock’s most popular compositions, “Maiden Voyage” exploits the modal concept common in jazz performances in the 1960s. Since the piece is based mostly on just two slow-moving chords and a spare melodic line, it generates a calm, placid mood overall in spite of occasionally spirited passages by the soloists, especially Hubbard.

October 23, 2007 · 0 comments

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