This year is heavily publicized sixtieth birthday of Blue Note, Herbie Hancock: The complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions ranks as one of the top Blue Note events of the year. And deservedly so. This is a classic album in it’s own right, George Coleman has never sounded better. Maiden Voyage also represents an inspirational event in Hancock’s Blue Note career. Maiden Voyage, extends Hancock’s use of a theme of separate pieces connected to a whole, a musical appreciation of the vastness and puissance of the sea. More importantly, Hancock hit his stride with compositions that are more accessible to the public and which approach sublimity in their unforced beauty and imaginative soloing . The quickness of his maturation in only four years, and the evidence of his uncommon intelligence as he absorbed numerous influences and continue to create jazz gems lead to a remarkable compressed progression of influential recordings.
My Point of View and Takin’ Off gather legendary musicians around Hancock as he surges ahead with his own style. Empyrean Isles show quicker progress to purer improvisation, with remarkable work by Freddie Hubbard, as Hancock notates only chord changes or tonal clusters over which Hubbard was free to ad lib. The Egg, one of the most astounding of Hancock’s compositions, consists of only of his repetitive motif backed by free trumpet improvisation. Speak like a child with it’s tricky harmonies, is intuitively appealing yet unpredictable than conventional chord progressions, creating aural colors instead of the danceable rhythms of his early years.
Herbie Hancock: The complete Blue Note Sixties Recordings is an impressive and satisfying achievement as it reminds Hancock’s followers of the origins of his talents that evolved into his development as one of the undisputed giants of jazz piano.