Maiden Voyage (1966, Herbie Hancock) Review

Take a look as we dive into a classic of jazz and reflect on what makes it so enjoyable and timeless!

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock released his fifth album Maiden Voyage in 1966.  The ambition with this was to craft five songs which paints a sonic picture of the vastness of the sea.  This is an incredibly successful take on creating a specific kind of aquatic mood.  One that is regal, relaxed, intriguing and wondrous.  It has a spirit that reminds me of the calmer shades of Miles Davis.

The opening self titled track immediately captivates with its regal atmosphere.  This soundscape makes me think of a group of people as they are shipping off to sea and beginning their voyage.  As corny as that may sound, it’s way more convincing and natural than it sounds on paper.  It’s just an endlessly cool and magical sonic soundscape that will always retain a fresh quality.  It’s truly one of my favorite jazz recordings of all time.  I mean, just listen to that piano!  The piano work in particular is in a class of its own.  What an all around great song.  Next is “Eye Of The Hurricane”, which has more of a bebop feel.  It’s a more fast paced and eccentric sounding tune, yet very captivating.  If the self titled track is a ship leaving off for the voyage, this is the hurricane that the crew gets trapped in.  

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“Little One” is a cool slow groove with all kinds of wonderful texture and pleasant soundscapes.  Makes me think of being on a bridge over the sea on a sunny day.  Very pleasant tune.  “Survival Of The Fittest” is the longest moment on the album, expanding to about 10 minutes.  This is the free jazz section of the album in which every member has a moment to solo.  This one works better in context of the mood of the album than it does stand alone.  If you aren’t already sucked into the mood of the album, it could come off a bit aimless.  But it’s still a fantastic, regal and atmospheric piece.  “Dolphin Dance” is a timeless classic that reminds me of the Monsters Inc. theme.  This an incredibly pleasant and warm tune that never fails to chill me out.  It kind of reminds me of the title track but it’s less concerned with painting a sonic picture, rather it’s interested in crafting a soothing melody.  What an excellent song to conclude the album on.

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Maiden Voyage is ultimately a gorgeous, relaxed album with brief fuses of experimental jazz.  Its regal mood music at its finest, which goes perfect when one just wants to relax and let the mind wander.  This album evokes a mood that is beautiful, magical and timeless.  Whether you’re a jazz fan or are curious to dive into the world of jazz, this album cannot be missed.

Here’s a link to the full album:

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