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The sea has often stirred the imagination of creative minds involved in all spheres of art. There still exists an element of mystery which surrounds the sea and the living aquatic creatures which provide it with its vital essence. Atlantis, the Sargasso Sea, giant serpents, and mermaids are only a few of the many folkloric mysteries which have evolved through man’s experiences with the sea. This music attempts to capture its vastness and majesty, the splendor of a sea-going vessel on its maiden voyage, the graceful beauty of the playful dolphins, the constant struggle for survival of even the tiniest sea creatures, and the awesome destructive power of the hurricane, nemesis of seamen. – Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage Before the dawn the water is

light wind ruffles the tips of the

length of the beach slowly

clear and quiet, the small move-

wavelets, whitening their crests

becomes visible, vast and silent,

ment of the waves so rhythmic it

with tongues of foam. Slowly the

the discarded residue of human-

is a stillness in itself. The birds

sand gains life, the grayness of

ity scarring its desert purity.

are silent, and the beach is as

the starry night becoming faintly

Metal wastebaskets are dotted

empty as the sky, except for a

yellow, a forerunner to the blazing

over the landscape as far as the

few small crabs that poke among

white of noon.

eye can see, looking strange

the rocks, looking for food tinier than they.

In this empty hour the busy world is shrouded in loneliness.

and useless, as desolate as gravestones.

As the first hint of gray suffus-

Half-buried cans glint weakly in

A single ship, perhaps on her

es the horizon and imperceptibly

the diffused light, and as the

maiden voyage, her mast a black

lightens the deep black waters, a

day grows broader, the whole

spike against the sky, hovers near



the horizon, until the curving

and playful dolphins, jesters and

Ancient tales speak of its

waters sink her sail from view. The

intelligentsia of her kingdom,

beauty and danger, of nameless

sand twinkles in the growing day,

ever ything in the sea moves

terrors that lurk in the shadows,

but all too soon the sea will break

constantly in flight or pursuit.

awaiting the unwary, of fantastic

on a shore of people. Gone will

To us a playground or a sym-

monsters rearing vast and

be the huge, secret silence, as the

bol of peace, to her creatures the

hideous heads from the depths,

masses stream from the city

sea is a watery jungle, a world

crunching ships in two with one

behind, scurr ying madly like

of swift life and swifter death,

snap of their jaws.

lemmings to the waiting strand.

whose silence cloaks a lurking

They speak too of the wondrous

But though the land may

danger. Killer whales, cruel

cities built by men of old under

submit, the sea is yet implacable,

kings of the sea, cruise slowly

the sea, that appear only once in

changeless, and though the

about, slaying for the love of

a hundred years, only to sink

people, deeming themselves

blood and battle. Sea anemones,

beneath the surface again, leav-

brave, tiptoe out from the edge of

beautiful and deadly, wave their

ing no trace. Yet in truth, no cities

the land and splash in the shal-

tentacles, beckoning small fish to

of man exist beneath the sea,

lows, tasting the salt, they can but

death by poison. Like the land, it

and lost Atlantis is but a woman’s

shiver on the fringes of her

is a world where the small and

tale. The sea yet holds her secrets,

mystery. Her vastness remains

timid must be swift and clever at

and it will be many a long year

dark and secret, a misty world of

hiding, where the strong prey on

ere man plumbs her depths,

silence and beauty and fluid

the weak, the weak on those

ravaging her beauty, imprison-

grace. From the great sluggish

more defenseless than them-

ing her creatures, usurping her

sea turtles gliding in slow motion

selves, a world where only the

throne with a savage hand.

through the depths, to the swift

fittest survive.

– Nora Kelly, Original Liner Notes P 2012 Blue Note Records. Blue Note® is a registered trademark of Capitol Records, LLC. g 2012 Blue Note Records. All Rights Reserved.

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The history of jazz is often told through the exploits of its firestarters, outsized personalities like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis who sent shockwaves through every bandstand they visited. That’s the headline level, and it’s useful for understanding various periods and styles. But as the music evolved and expanded in the 1960s, priorities shifted, and so did the roles of the players. There was need for musicians who were perhaps not always so flamboyant. The collective pursuit of a sound became as important as individual heroics, and that created

oppor tunities for gifted team players and facilitators, musicians who sought to complement what was happening rather than dazzle people all the time. Maiden Voyage springs from the mind of one of the most adept and creative of the sound-sculpting facilitators, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. By the time he recorded this, Hancock had been in the Miles Davis Quintet for several years, an experience he, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, the rhythm section here, all described as transformative. Among Hancock’s tasks in that group was to

create expansive landscapes for Davis; the pianist stoked and framed what became epic discussions by drawing on a range of sources. His accompaniments might glance at the syncopated jabs of 1920s Ellington, or the clusters of free jazz, or the gorgeous pastel chords associated with Debussy. Hancock has said that in the Davis fold he learned about space and subtlety, about how something small and slight, like a three-note chord, could trigger torrents of spontaneous creativity. To hear that in action, consult virtually any recording of the ‘60s Quintet.

MAIDEN VOYAGE Or check out this record, because Hancock brought those strategies for conjuring and slyly shaping a tune into his own projects. Maiden Voyage, arguably his peak solo statement from the 1960s, appropriates elements of the Davis group dynamic for a transfixingly understated meditation on the lure of the sea. It’s a classic that’s justifiably revered for its compositions and its solos, and also, perhaps most importantly, the rich and delicate interactions that run throughout. The album is a per fect case study in the ar t of group interplay; it offers an array of thoughtful answers to the question “How, exactly, does conversation happen in jazz?” Hancock starts with the notion of melody: Each of these five pieces is built around a singable theme, one that’s durable enough to be inverted, paraphrased or passed around the group in the heat of improvisation. The melodies of Hancock’s tunes serve as a kind of through-line, echoing in the margins. Hancock refers to his

themes, in oblique ways, when accompanying trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and tenor saxophonist George Coleman: He’s cultivating an atmosphere of expansive openness, and sometimes those glancing references help remind ever yone involved about the dimensions of the canvas, the color palette and overall tone. This tactic proves particularly wise on the deceptively challenging “Dolphin Dance:” The mood is placid but the solos get stormy, and whenever it seems like the music is about to fracture, Hancock slips in some little phrase that gathers everyone back together. In the headstrong jazz year 1965, lots of players were screaming “Look what I can do!” tr ying to grab attention by any contrived means possible. H a n c o c k ’s M a i d e n Vo y a g e represents the flipside of all that: His windblown, undulating, intentionally low-key environment proceeds from the belief, acquired from Davis, that a minimal setting can inspire all kinds of meaningful

musical conversations. Everybody is listening carefully, and out to enhance the proceedings. There is great grace, and concision, in every gesture here, and it’s not an accident that within these discussions, there are also bold, wailing outbursts and provocations. That’s what happens when everyone involved is in pursuit of musical aptness rather than audacity. – Tom Moon

Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage_Booklet  

Probably the best in Herbie Hancock's series of fine Blue Note albums from the 60s, Maiden Voyage finds him in what is basically the Miles D...