I go through periods of deep dives, concentrations and obsessions, just like anyone else. Maybe more so. No, scratch that. Definitely more so. When I take an interest in something, I’ll become consumed with it until I essentially exhaust my resources or just become exhausted, period. And this always, always, applies to music. (Music is what I spend most of my waking hours thinking about, so naturally…)
In 2012, I spent pretty much the entirety of my summer—at least I think it was summer, since everything blurs together when you’re a part of the workforce—listening to the entire Blue Note back catalog. Well, maybe not all of it. That could take years. But dozens upon dozens of the best albums it ever released, from Kenny Burrell to Grant Green to Grachan Moncur III to Eric Dolphy. (In fact, I was obsessed pretty specifically with Out to Lunch! for a while and it’s still what I’d consider one of the most amazing jazz albums ever recorded.)
In short, it was the Summer of Blue Note.
And it was a good summer! I’d pretty much just have one hard bop, post-bop or avant garde album running through my headphones at all times, and it was sort of like paradise, even though I was working. Many of the albums I listened to have already been featured on this blog and many more will be in the future, but one that’s earned its place in the canon for good reason is Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.
In spite of the title, it’s not his first albums—he released a handful beforehand, including Empyrean Isles, which I think I actually like a little bit more than this one. But that being said, they’re both perfect as far as I’m concerned. There’s so much talk about the ’60s in terms of rock and folk music, psychedelia and hippies. But it was a bonkers time for jazz. You couldn’t walk five feet without tripping over some amazing jazz music. And this is no exception. Herbie Hancock went through various phases throughout his career, from film scoring to funk to disco, but some of his early recordings feature some of his best gems.
Herbie Hancock albums aren’t hard to find, thankfully (save for a handful of his Japan-only releases from the late ’70s that provided a more elegant counterpoint to his bigger commercial disco sounds at the time), and this one found me without too much struggle, and an early copy of that—not a reissue. My Herbie journey was really just beginning in 2012, and it had progressed somewhat by 2015, when I bought this, but I still had a long way to go.
Sound Quality: Great