All About Jazz

Home » Articles » My Blue Note Obsession

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

18

Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock: Speak Like a Child – 1968

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
Hancock has so many great and popular albums that the lesser efforts, like this one, are, well, definitely lesser.
Enter the album name hereSpeak Like a Child feels like the mash-up of two separate albums. One is a lyrical set of three tunes—mellow songs with childhood themes. The other is a standard set of three bop tunes. Both are nice, but the quieter songs are maybe a bit too tame.

Give Herbie Hancock credit for trying something new. He wrote all the tunes. Speak Like a Child is his sixth Blue Note record, and much of it sounds unlike his previous five. The key difference: Three unusual horns—a flugelhorn, a bass trombone and an alto flute —that provide background color to many tunes, but don't take solos. Throughout the record, Hancock is the only solo voice. Everyone else is there for support.

The mellowness starts with the title cut, which, for some reason, is the second on the album. It's melodic and pretty, but nothing that makes you jump up and say, "Wow, let's hear that again!" If your mind is in a wandering mood, this is your mood music. The beat is slightly bossa nova. It feels like lounge jazz.

The theme continues with "Toys," another pretty melody with the horns again playing background support, very much like on a Gil Evans album. It's a mild, cheerful theme and Hancock takes his pretty solos. The final themed song, "Goodbye to Childhood," is as mournful as the title implies. This isn't just pretty music. It's a sad dirge that's actually very affecting. If you're in a sad or reflective mood, this number will be your perfect accompaniment.

Much better, to my ears, are the up-tempo tunes. The album kicks off with a remake of "Riot." It's a fun and adventurous romp—very different from the Miles Davis version, and certainly less riotous. "First Trip" is a terrific and jaunty blues number. For my money, this is my favorite on the record. The whole affair wraps up with "Sorcerer," another remake of a Miles Davis number that Hancock makes his own—happy and bopping.

Speak Like a Child tends to be overlooked in the Herbie Hancock catalog. No surprise there. Hancock has so many great and popular albums—both the traditional kind and the fusion-funk records —that the lesser efforts are, well, definitely lesser. This one deserves a listen for being something out of the ordinary: Simple, but not simplistic.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Pretty common

Cost: Just $2 or $3 used on Amazon

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession
My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession
Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession
Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession
Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession
Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession
Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981" Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Newport Jazz Festival 2018: Part 1-2" Live Reviews Newport Jazz Festival 2018: Part 1-2
by Timothy J. O'Keefe
Published: August 30, 2018