Selection: Maiden Voyage (Hancock)
Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba, drums) Herbie Hancock (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Joe Chambers (drums, vibraphone) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 8, 1966
Hutcherson claims not to have heard the original Hancock Maiden Voyage before making his recording. It’s a tough call but personally I prefer the Hutcherson version to the original Hancock one. The counterpoint of Hancock’s percussive piano paired against Hutcherson’s percussive mallets adds a rhythmic tension not found in the more melodramatic original. Herbie appears on both so you are being treated effectively to an alternate take, with Hancock shrewdly pocketing double the song-writing royalties.
The modal structures allows the quartet a great deal of space to explore the ethereal sonic textures of the vibraphone, and the absence of brass is in this case a positive advantage, avoiding the formulaic heads, solo1, solo2, solo 3, reprise heads for something less of a route march through each song. Hancock is especially adept at finding the right notes to play against the vibes, which I guess is a linear keyboard of sorts.
LJC says: In my opinion (what else?), BN 4198 Dialogue remains Hutcherson’s Blue Note of choice, where the vibraphone is integrated within a more busy quintet format. For the same reason, BN 4213 Components, with its sextet format, has more complex layering rather than here, where Hutcherson is inevitably the prominent lead soloist within a quartet, without a horn. It goes back to the question asked before, how you feel about vibraphone. This one gives you a large helping of it, and it is definitely a cool sound well suited to an upscale uptown apartment with the right sort of retro furniture, evening low lighting, and a good single malt. I can go with that.
Vinyl: BN 4231 Liberty/ Blue Note, van Gelder stamp, no ear.
Happenings was released on the cusp of transition to Liberty, surrounded by a raft of titles allocated their Blue Note catalogue number but not released for up to a further decade.
BLP 4223 Jackie McLean – Jacknife
BLP 4233 Andrew Hill – One For One
BLP 4234 Stanley Turrentine
BLP 4236 Jackie McLean – High Frequency
BLP 4241 Hank Mobley – A Slice Of The Top
Liberty unable to pick up the momentum of Blue Note, most awaited United Artists first release by Michael Cuscuna in the mid ’70s. However in the mid ’60s Hutcherson’s stock was high, vibist of choice on the new centre of musical gravity, the West Coast, and he enjoyed a schedule of new releases through Liberty and later United Artists well into the ’70s.
Since the record was not released until 1967, one is no more valid than the other, but try telling that to collectors . “Original NY label! Van Gelder!”
Unusually for Liberty it is a mono release, against the gathering head of steam behind stereo.
That cover: something to talk about.The cover design by Reid Miles is iconic. No more girly ’50s cheesecake – it’s ’60s attitude and fashion, in lipstick pink. Created the same year as Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece Blow Up ( film music score, um, coincidentally, by one Herbie Hancock) a murder mystery set in ’60s London and the swinging but ultimately shallow world of mod fashion, its anti-hero a fashion photographer, and a cast of aspiring fashion models. Holy 1960s! Includes scenes with my teen music heroes, The Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck. (Shouldn’t that be Eric Clapton?) Note to myself, I need to see this film again!
Breaking with Blue Note tradition, Reid Miles elects not to feature the album’s musicians, but by deploying the image of a mod fashion model posing to camera, the Happenings cover artfully encapsulates its time, and “what’s happening”. Brilliant.
A bonus, Happenings offers intelligent liner notes written by Leonard Feather, in contrast to the purple new age prose of Hancock’s original Maiden Voyage.
Toughly fought over on Ebay a few years ago. Then I knew nothing about Liberty NY and Division of Liberty, and the religious divide between mono and stereo, I just thought it was a Blue Note (wrongly) and I wanted it. I know now, but how many times is another innocent present in auctions today?
LJC Bonus: Jazz Goes Ivy League – University Challenge Round 2
If you read this far, faithfull readers, you are to be rewarded with another bonus – second round – identify the samples, gain a Masters in Jazz.
On to this post’s Name That Tune in One, the samples get a little more difficult, and to add some spice the number of samples just doubled to ten. Remember, I want the Lead Artist, The Album Title, and the Song Title.The Prize? The Ivy League College of Jazz (London Campus) prom queen has promised the first poster with the correct answers a special candle-lit dinner for two. But she warns, just starter and a main. Don’t expect dessert on a first date.
Oh, and you’re paying. What else did you expect?
Prove yourself a Grand Master of Jazz, if you can.