Speak Like a Child is the sixth album by American jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, recorded and released by Blue Note Records in 1968. Featuring Hancock’s arrangements for an unusual front line of alto flute, bass trombone and flugelhorn, the album was described by critic Nat Hentoff as an “impressive further stage in the evolution of Herbie Hancock as writer and player”, characterised by a “singular quality of incisive, searching lyricism.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_Like_a_Child_(album)).
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine:
Between 1965’s Maiden Voyage and 1968’s Speak Like a Child, Herbie Hancock was consumed with his duties as part of the Miles Davis Quintet, who happened to be at their creative and popular peak during those three years. When Hancock did return to a leadership position on Speak Like a Child, it was clear that he had assimilated not only the group’s experiments, but also many ideas Miles initially sketched out with Gil Evans. Like Maiden Voyage, the album is laid-back, melodic, and quite beautiful, but there are noticeable differences between the two records. Hancock’s melodies and themes have become simpler and more memorable, particularly on the title track, but that hasn’t cut out room for improvisation. Instead, he has found a balance between accessible themes and searching improvisations that work a middle ground between post-bop and rock. Similarly, the horns and reeds are unconventional. He has selected three parts — Thad Jones’ flügelhorn, Peter Phillips’ bass trombone, Jerry Dodgion’s alto flute — with unusual voicings, and he uses them for tonal texture and melodic statements, not solos. The rhythm section of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Mickey Roker keeps things light, subtle, and forever shifting, emphasizing the hybrid nature of Hancock’s original compositions. But the key to Speak Like a Child is in Hancock’s graceful, lyrical playing and compositions, which are lovely on the surface and provocative and challenging upon closer listening (http://www.allmusic.com/album/speak-like-a-child-mw0000188262).
All compositions by Herbie Hancock, except as indicated.
Herbie Hancock — piano
Ron Carter — bass
Mickey Roker — drums
Jerry Dodgion — alto flute (not on #3)
Thad Jones — flugelhorn (not on #3)
Peter Phillips — bass trombone (not on #3)
Cover Photo by David Bythewood
Released: Summer 1968
Recorded: March 6 and 9, 1968
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Length: 37:05 original LP
Label Blue Note
Producer: Duke Pearson