QUINCY JONES / “Tell Me A Bedtime Story”
I’ve always been more impressed with Herbie Hancock’s composing and arranging than with his soloing. It is true that he is a great soloist but in the final analysis his arrangments and compositions are his most lasting contribution to jazz legacy. Hancock has done what few of his peers were able to do: in a wide variety of styles, compose music that became standards. Undoubtedly Hancock’s most popular work was his fusion songs with his group The Headhunters, and leading that group would be the mega-hit, "Chameleon" and also his fusion reworking of “Watermelon Man.” For my taste the album Maiden Voyage (1965) was the pinnacle of Hancock’s composing in a progressive jazz bag. Of course it helped tremendously that the band was the Miles Davis band of that period with Freddie Hubbard filling the trumpet spot and Freddie was ready, in fact he was super ready. All of Freddie’s solos are outstanding, as was the work of the rest of the band: George Coleman on tenor, Ron Carter on bass and the young monster, Tony Williams on drums. Maiden Voyage is one of the most soothing and relaxing jazz albums ever recorded but it was simultaneously filled with tense, experimental moments during which the musicians inventively explored melody, rhythm and harmony with an openness that was startling. In addition to seven versions of the title selection, I’ve included five versions of “Dolphin Dance,” another seletion from the Maiden Voyage album. The third featured Hancock composition is “Tell Me A Bedtime Story” from Herbie’s Fat Albert Rotunda album. This is the kind of music that prefigured smooth jazz. And that’s it: three tunes from the pen of Herbie Hancock, but they are three genre shaping compositions that remain jazz standards over forty years after they were first recorded. —Kalamu ya Salaam “Maiden Voyage” playlist 1. Herbie Handcock – Maiden Voyage (1965) This is the original. Check out Mr. Hubbard’s fantastic solo and also the amazing drumming of the young Tony Williams, who was a teenager at the time. 2. Jon Lucien – Song For My Lady (1975) A smooth Caribbean man who was another originator of what we now call smooth jazz. Lucien was particularly adept at fitting lyrics to jazz compositions, mainly his own compositions but also those of others. 3. Bobby Hutcherson – Blow Up LIVE (1969 – bootleg) Recorded at the Juan les Pins Jazz Festival in France, the line-up is Harold Land on tenor, Stanley Cowell on piano, Joe Chambers on drums, and Hutcherson on vibes. In addition to becoming the heir to the jazz vibes throne, Hutcherson was also one part of the Blue Note new jazz artists of the sixties and frequently recorded with the musicians on Hancock’s Maiden Voyage album. 4. Dianne Reeves and Geri Allen – Bob Belden’s Shades of Blue (1994) Regular BoL followers know that I am a big, big fan of Dianne Reeves and she doesn’t disappoint in this sensitive reading of Herbie’s classic composition, plus there’s the hip, hip keyboard work of Ms. Geri Allen to lift the whole proceedings up an extra notch. This is another combination that ought to make an album together. 5. Robert Glasper – In My Element (2007) Robert Glasper is one of “the” young monsters of the acoustic keyboard. For me it’s the richness of his imagination that attracts and rewards repeated listenings. He pairs Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” with “Maiden Voyage” for a peek-a-boo, simultaneous exploration of the two songs as though they were entwined at birth. 6. Leny Andrade – Maiden Voyage (1994) Brazilian jazz vocalist Leny Andrade loving stretches out on her version as though she were a purple kite dipping and soaring through a bright blue spring sky. 7. SF Jazz Collective – Live 2006: 3rd Annual Concert Tour This is a repertory band that annually performs the works of a selected jazz artist. The 2006 focus was on the music of Herbie Hancock. The featured soloist is Bobby Hutcherson but it’s 35 years after the quartet recording at the top of this playlist. Bobby is no less brilliant, in fact he’s even more mesmerizing.
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