HERBIE HANCOCK — Speak Like a Child (review)

HERBIE HANCOCK — Speak Like a Child album cover Album · 1968 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
This is probably third on my list of favourite Hancock albums and it's one of his finest.

Beautiful without slipping into overly sentimental territory, the album is a mix of cool and post bop and reveals another facet to Hancock's range of compositional prowess - give him a genre at random and no doubt he could work within it, then push it's boundaries while he was at it - as he incorporates trombone, flugelhorn and flute to the sound of his piano and a small rhythm section of bass and drums.

It's possible to break this one into two clear moods - songs like 'Riot' and 'First Trip' exemplify the harder side of the material and 'Speak Like a Child' and 'Goodbye to Childhood' represent the cooler, more reflective moments. 'First Trip' is notable for being a trio piece composed by Carter, whereas the other uptempo songs include the full band, with 'Riot' or 'Toys' revealing what sounds like a mini orchestra playing the bookends to Hancock's solos. And it's a surprising pleasure when those horns and flute are used on 'Speak Like a Child', also allowing Hancock a different palette to solo over, which he does with his usual grace. He's just as subtly effective on 'Goodbye to Childhood' which employs a similar structure, though it's more focused on the piano and has more space between phrases.

Put simply, any fan of Herbie Hancock's Blue Note era should invest in this album.

Note that the Rudy Van Gelder Remaster includes three bonus tracks, two alternates of 'Riot' and a stripped back version of 'Goodbye to Childhood' where Hancock solos for the majority of the song unaccompanied. Five stars.
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