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Herbie Hancock: 'Maiden Voyage'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hello, I'm Murray Horwitz asking you to close your eyes, because A.B. Spellman and I have to ask you to visualize something, right now. Jazz musicians sometimes like to paint tone pictures, and Herbie Hancock gives us a seascape in this week's entry into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library with Maiden Voyage.


A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: And a deep and rolling sea it is, Murray. Herbie said that he wanted to evoke everything in the ocean: the flow of the current; the creatures, great, small and mythical, who live in the water; the response of voyagers, who experience it for the first time. And he's done that. But mostly, he and his collaborators have made some very satisfying music. Here's the saxophonist George Coleman at his most lyrical on the title cut.


SPELLMAN: And again from the title composition, here's Freddie Hubbard doing a John Coltrane imitation on the trumpet.


HORWITZ: Then, there's always this magnificent rhythm section, the same one that Miles Davis assembled, leading the soloists and making a context for everything that happens.

SPELLMAN: I love every minute of all the music that Hancock, the bassist Ron Carter, and the drummer Tony Williams have made together. All are strong stylists, and together they have this sensitive coherence.


HORWITZ: Not least, two of Herbie Hancock's compositions for this record date became jazz standards — "Dolphin Dance" and "Maiden Voyage." And that's not surprising, because he is one of the best composers for small ensemble in the history of jazz music.

SPELLMAN: No doubt about it, Murray.

HORWITZ: We're listening to, and we've been talking about Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. It's on the Blue Note label, and it's in the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. The Basic Jazz Record Library is funded by NPR member stations and by the Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Fund.

SPELLMAN: For information about Maiden Voyage, and other selections, visit our Web site. For NPR Jazz, I'm A.B. Spellman.

HORWITZ: And, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

A. B. Spellman
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