This is my fourth in a series of posts on jazz albums that I would pick as my “Desert Island Discs”. These are the jazz recordings I would want with me if I were stranded on a desert island. In some ways, this is a silly game. If I were stranded on a desert island I should be thinking about ways to get off the island and get back home. I should be packing books like “How to Build a Boat and Get Off a Desert Island”, “How To Signal Passing Ships and Get Rescued from a Desert Island”, and “101 Things to Safely Eat on a Desert Island”. If all I am bringing is music, I sure hope I have something on which to play these albums. It would really stink to have 8 great jazz albums and have no way to listen to them.
If you recall, my previous picks were:
(Click on each for a link to the previous blog posts)
My fourth pick would be Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock. This classic 1965 Blue Note album features Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums, George Coleman on tenor saxophone and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. At the time, Hancock, Carter and Williams were working together in Miles Davis’ great quintet of the 1960’s. That rhythm section, together with Freddie Hubbard had recorded Hancock’s previous album Empyrean Isles. That core group added Coleman on tenor for this turn in the studio.
Looking at the guy in the sailboat on the cover and reading the names of the tunes (“Dolphin Dance”, “Maiden Voyage”, “Eye of the Hurricane”), it’s not hard to realize that this is a “concept” album. Herbie is portraying moods and atmospheres relating to the sea or oceans through the entire recording. That makes this bit of music impressionistic, in the sense that we are given impressions of the sea, storms, and sea life. Contrast that aesthetic with an expressionistic work, whereby the artist is focused on expressing his or her inner feelings, turmoil, or dramatic struggles.
Here is the title track “Maiden Voyage” (or as I like to think of it: Revenge of the sus4 chord)
The liners notes to the album can be read here.
Liner notes are one of the things I really miss in the digital age of downloading music. 12 inch vinyl records had great artwork on their covers. Compact discs at least come with a booklet of liner notes. When I download things from the “eye-tunes”, I miss out on all that information. We have gained portability with digital music, but have also lost something.
Here is “Eye of the Hurricane” from the original studio recording.
The same musicians on this album reunited in the 1970s as the VSOP quintet, with Wayne Shorter on tenor sax instead of Coleman. That group revisited some of the tunes on Maiden Voyage and recorded some great live albums.
The practical side of me thinks I might be better off with the sailboat from the cover art if I were really stranded on an island. The musician in me, however, doesn’t want to leave home without my copy of Herbie’s great album.