The Ramsey Lewis Masterpiece
William G. Stout | Pasadena, CA USA | 02/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am not normally a jazz fan, I took this recording to heart the year it was released (1968). Maiden Voyage is one of my favorite albums of all time. Strangely, when this LP was first released on CD (as Maiden Voyage...Plus), it was missing some tracks, even though some tracks from the Mother Nature's Son LP by Lewis were added, and even though there was still plenty of room left on the CD to retain all of the original Maiden Voyage tracks plus the bonus tracks. Go figure.
What makes this record so special? It is pure sensuality put to music. The sensuous setting that the brilliant Charles Stepney production provides for the Trio's music is lush and exquisite. With Minnie Riperton as the lead atmospheric vocalist, Stepney adds haunting female vocals to the Trio's superb melodic and rhythmical playing (the title of the LP, besides being the title of the Herbie Hancock song that opens the album, also refers to the fact that this is Ramsey's first use of female back-up singers throughout an entire LP). Les Fleurs is the standout track and is the finest version ever recorded of this song, even beating Minnie's own version produced by Stepney. Before I got married, Maiden Voyage was a perfect seduction aid; I would just put it on my record player and let Ramsey do most of my work for me. It almost never failed. The Ramsey Lewis Trio was at the top of their game on this LP.
Now if only their follow-up, Mother Nature's Son (same year, same producer), would get a proper CD release...."