May 20, 2016

Herbie Hancock - Speak Like A Child (1968)


Wow, what an absolutely gorgeous session. As the title might suggest, Speak Like A Child is a soft and intimate album. In my books this is better than or at least on par with Herbie's previous album, the overpraised Maiden Voyage. The compositions don't force horn contributions (I think George Coleman and Freddie Hubbard spoil the desired mood of Maiden Voyage) and are great at keeping my attention. Herbie is flanked by three horns, but they are hardly overbearing; the swells are rightly subdued and soft. I'm sure the aging trumpet player of this session, Thad Jones, was seen as a secondary leader for this date, and he uses his experience to guide the horn section to such a perplexing atmosphere. Herbie plays as one would expect from him, laying down his usual moody funk textures. His playing is as lovely as it is on any of his albums. Overall this record has a great balance of post-boppy pieces and the mellow stuff. Speak Like A Child is one of Herbie's final acoustic showcases before he went all-electric with Miles and shows where his mind was before he took off for another universe. The album is also one of the best Blue Note Records has to offer after its merge with the larger label. Recommended if you're a fan of Wayne Shorter's Adam's Apple, the quieter Andrew Hill albums of the late 60s, or the Bobby Hutcherson albums from around this time. The title track is no doubt the standout here, simply breathtaking.

Sample

Speak Like A Child