312

Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
There are few worse examples of a masterpiece performance being savaged by poor recording quality than Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. This very expensive recent re-release on 45RPM vinyl by Analogue Productions only serves to highlight its engineering travesty.

Rudy Van Gelder had the great fortune to record the best of the best in jazz for Prestige, Blue Note and other notable labels of the 1950s and '60s. The signature RVG stamped in the dead wax of these albums marks not only his recording, but his mastering and pressing as well. He was involved in the production of these records from top to bottom.

But there is one peculiarity to Van Gelder's recordings of the '50s and '60s that is almost universal: the piano. For whatever the reason, that piano—with only a few passable exceptions—sounds like it was recorded underwater, or under a blanket in a closet, on virtually every recording he engineered. It's not hard to imagine, if given the opportunity to set up a session to record a leading pianist like Herbie Hancock (or Duke Ellington, or Horace Silver, or McCoy Tyner), that the studio piano would sound its best. This apparently did not dawn on Van Gelder until many years later. His pianos always sound small, dulled and indistinct.

Worse yet, on this particular album, recorded in a single session in March 1965, the entire band sounds murky and blurred. No amount of phenomenal re-mastering by the good folks at Acous-Tech—who have painstakingly transferred the original master tapes to these new 45 RPM slabs of petroleum product—can overcome what was a botched job in the first place. Other albums in the series, including a magnificent pressing of John Coltrane's Blue Trane (Blue Note, 1957), and titles by Dexter Gordon, Paul Chambers, and Art Blakey all sound excellent, except for that piano. Maiden Voyage suffers needlessly in its entirety.

Make no mistake: musically, Maiden Voyage is an outstanding album. It's a bridge between hard bop and some more adventurous music to come, with an all-star lineup doing justice to Hancock's original compositions. The always exciting Freddie Hubbard plays his heart out on every track, and saxophonist George Coleman, while not quite as adventurous on his tenor, still turns in a fine performance.

This two-disk 45 RPM pressing costs fifty dollars—a lot of money for a single album. Unfortunately, there is nothing to be gained from a first-class analogue pressing of an album that, sadly, was not recorded with the attention to sound quality that it deserved.

Track Listing: Maiden Voyage; The Eye of the Hurricane; Little One; Survival of the Fittest; Dolphin Dance.

Personnel: Herbie Hancock: piano; Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; George Coleman: tenor saxophone; Ron Carter: bass; Tony Williams: drums.

Title: Maiden Voyage | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "In All My Holy Mountain" CD/LP/Track Review In All My Holy Mountain
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Nadje Noordhuis" CD/LP/Track Review Nadje Noordhuis
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That" CD/LP/Track Review A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That
by James Nadal
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: February 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.