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Herbie Hancock Memoir

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title that personally I could never listen to it. Might be fine as music, but just imagine if Joyce had called his book "Frank." No one would read it. A true failure, on Herbie's part, of the intellect.

and Headhunters, forget it. Tried it, gave up. Went the way of all those CTI's they used to play constantly at that record store I worked at when I was much younger (though it came later, makes no difference).

and the music Herbie did for the movie Round Midnite was just excrement, really was.

that stuff makes Hot Dog look like a masterpiece. And bring back the varitone!

Nobody on CTI was occupying a progressive or conceptual space in the public's mind. Hancock however, was always considered a 'progressive' musician, especially by those with more of a foot in the rock camp, even up to his involvement with Laswell.

Is this what your beef is? That he was essentially a conservative musician, who should not be afforded any more privileged status than the more blatantly commercial CTI side of Fusion.

The 'title' Speak Like A Child, reflects the 'Picasso syndrome', that plagued art and music still caught up in Modernist concepts. Ornette was also responsible for this. The music was ahead of the words and concepts, and this reflects the sometimes embarrassing titles and texts used by some musicians (and labels) to represent and frame the music - when it wasn't being marketed to only a Soul Jazz audience. Hancock was not alone in this, and probably didn't spend as much time thinking through the conceptualisation of his words.

Not as much as Joyce anyway :g

Edited by freelancer

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title

No, dumb is Elton's "Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy"

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title

No, dumb is Elton's "Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy"

From the mouth of babes

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title that personally I could never listen to it. Might be fine as music, but just imagine if Joyce had called his book "Frank." No one would read it. A true failure, on Herbie's part, of the intellect.

and Headhunters, forget it. Tried it, gave up. Went the way of all those CTI's they used to play constantly at that record store I worked at when I was much younger (though it came later, makes no difference).

and the music Herbie did for the movie Round Midnite was just excrement, really was.

that stuff makes Hot Dog look like a masterpiece. And bring back the varitone!

Nobody on CTI was occupying a progressive or conceptual space in the public's mind. Hancock however, was always considered a 'progressive' musician, especially by those with more of a foot in the rock camp, even up to his involvement with Laswell.

Is this what your beef is? That he was essentially a conservative musician, who should not be afforded any more privileged status than the more blatantly commercial CTI side of Fusion.

The 'title' Speak Like A Child, reflects the 'Picasso syndrome', that plagued art and music still caught up in Modernist concepts. Ornette was also responsible for this. The music was ahead of the words and concepts, and this reflects the sometimes embarrassing titles and texts used by some musicians (and labels) to represent and frame the music - when it wasn't being marketed to only a Soul Jazz audience. Hancock was not alone in this, and probably didn't spend as much time thinking through the conceptualisation of his words.

Not as much as Joyce anyway :g

First of all, let's wish Herbie a happy 72nd birthday. (Born April 12, 1940)

Now, Allen: In the immortal words of Jeff Spicoli, "Hey, dude, what's your problem?!" Are you saying you've never listened to the record because you don't like the title or are you saying you heard it once but thought the title was so dumb you swore off it forevermore? Either way I'm having a hard time processing. Not liking the music is certainly legitimate, but using the title as a sign of intellectual failure when the music itself is remarkably sophisticated on every level seems like throwing out the baby with the bath water and all that. But, ok, we all live in the world we choose to live in. But for me, I want "Speak Like a Child" as part of my soundtrack options (not to mention the rest of the Blue Notes.) Headhunters, too, for that matter, especially the absolutely killin' live double album from Japan called "Flood." Also, all the Mwandishi band music and much of the later work too -- but certainly not all and I would of course admit he's produced a lot of schlock along the way and that, on the whole, the records in recent decades have not been as satisfying as the live performances that I've heard. But there are exceptions -- I thought the live record with Brecker and Hargrove, etc. was a great jazz recording and I thought the Joni Mitchell record was a great pop record.

But back to the title , which I rather like or at least don't see as any more problematic than, say, "Let My Children Hear Music," "A Child is Born," or "Inka Dinka Doo." Herbie is quoted in the liner notes (by Nat Hentoff) that the title came from Frank Wolff:

"It's a result of a picture that a friend of mine, David Blythewood, took. I dug it so much I brought it to Frank for use as the cover for this album. Frank said it was so evocative a photography becasue of the innocence and naivete in it. And so I started thinking about the quality of innocence when I was writing this song. Clearly the music doesn't sound too much like what's going on today -- war, riots, the stock market getting busted up. And the reason it doesn't I realized is that I'm optimistic. I believe in hope and peace and love. It's not that I'm blind to what's going on, but I feel this music is a foward look into what could be a bright future. The philosophy represented in this number, and to a large extent in the album as a while, is child-like. But not childish. By that I mean there are certain elements of childhood we lose and wish we could have back -- purity, spontaneity. When they do return to us, we're at our best. So what I'm telling the world is: Speak like a child. Thank and feel in terms of hope and the possibilitiesl of making ourselves less impure."

Ok, you might find this all a little too precious and embarassing (I don't), but even if you do, I would suggest, contrary to Freelancer above, that Herbie certainly has thought through pretty deeply the conceptualism behind the words.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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some people judge a book by it's cover.

btw: happy birthday Herbie Hancock.

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some people judge a book by it's cover.

btw: happy birthday Herbie Hancock.

andrew_hill_grass.jpg

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Well, Herbie has acknowledged the influence of Chris Anderson.

I was unfamiliar with Anderson until I heard him play at a Billy Higgins benefit at St. Peter's, and the stylistic connection, especially the touch, was evident.

andrew_hill_grass.jpg

nascim_milt_clubedaes_102b.jpg

Cover of Clube da Esquina, Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges

The passage comes from an interview with Hancock conducted by a former Tristano student, Jon Easton.

IIRC, he was the loose cannon who was kicked off WKCR because he complained about something like an AACM festival, which he considered junk, pre-empting his program.

Edited by Pete C

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There's a whole "Chicago piano sound", a certain general touch, a certain general sense of voicings...I've heard it posited that it goes all the way back to Earl Hines (would that make it a Pittsburgh thing, then?) Herbie showed it any number of times, and although I'm not terribly familiar with Chirs Anderson (yet), what I've heard from him suggests that he is a part of that continuum as well.

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There's a whole "Chicago piano sound", a certain general touch, a certain general sense of voicings...

I'm not familiar enough with these players to recall style specifics offhand, but do any or all of these guys fit the bill?

Jodie Christian

Willie Pickens

John Young

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Definitely.

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There's a whole "Chicago piano sound", a certain general touch, a certain general sense of voicings...I've heard it posited that it goes all the way back to Earl Hines (would that make it a Pittsburgh thing, then?) Herbie showed it any number of times, and although I'm not terribly familiar with Chirs Anderson (yet), what I've heard from him suggests that he is a part of that continuum as well.

You need to check out that new Chris Anderson reissue on Fresh Sound.

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Will it confirm or rebuke my view of Anderson as a part of that continuum?

For me, it's mostly a right-hand thing, this "Chicago piano thing" and it's in no-way a constant thing. It's just something that shows up as a part of the playing conversating, casual, not really something done to call attention to itself, just part of the natural way of speaking.

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title that personally I could never listen to it.

this statement absolutely speaks volumes about you!!! thank you for making yourself so transparent. :shrug[1]: LOL

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Will it confirm or rebuke my view of Anderson as a part of that continuum?

For me, it's mostly a right-hand thing, this "Chicago piano thing" and it's in no-way a constant thing. It's just something that shows up as a part of the playing conversating, casual, not really something done to call attention to itself, just part of the natural way of speaking.

Not sure, but I think confirm. I'd emphasize the at times over-the-top, romantic, cinematic "sweep" of Anderson's conception, which then certainly leads to specific pianistic things, but I feel that the "sweep" is in the lead here. Check out the compilation's Vee-Jay material first. Something similar certainly can be found in John Young's playing, but there it's essentially impish, not willing to proceed nakedly to the point of near-delerium, as Anderson sometimes is.

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Actually, Herbie wanted to call the album Cuss Like a Crabby Alter Kaker, but the label made him change it.

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Will it confirm or rebuke my view of Anderson as a part of that continuum?

For me, it's mostly a right-hand thing, this "Chicago piano thing" and it's in no-way a constant thing. It's just something that shows up as a part of the playing conversating, casual, not really something done to call attention to itself, just part of the natural way of speaking.

Not sure, but I think confirm. I'd emphasize the at times over-the-top, romantic, cinematic "sweep" of Anderson's conception, which then certainly leads to specific pianistic things, but I feel that the "sweep" is in the lead here. Check out the compilation's Vee-Jay material first. Something similar certainly can be found in John Young's playing, but there it's essentially impish, not willing to proceed nakedly to the point of near-delerium, as Anderson sometimes is.

Yeah, ok, got it. What I'm talking about is a pianistic thing that could (and has been) applied to any number of interpretive ends. Just a way of talking, separate from what is being said.

so many of the Chicago tenor players have it too, even today, a certain accent in their tone...kind of a sharpness in the upper overtones of every note (which a probably complete science fail, but I hope you know what I mean...).

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so many of the Chicago tenor players have it too, even today, a certain accent in their tone...kind of a sharpness in the upper overtones of every note (which a probably complete science fail, but I hope you know what I mean...).

My take on the Chicago tenor sound is that a lot of it comes out of Byas.

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Speak Like A Child is such a DUMB title that personally I could never listen to it. Might be fine as music, but just imagine if Joyce had called his book "Frank." No one would read it. A true failure, on Herbie's part, of the intellect.

and Headhunters, forget it. Tried it, gave up. Went the way of all those CTI's they used to play constantly at that record store I worked at when I was much younger (though it came later, makes no difference).

and the music Herbie did for the movie Round Midnite was just excrement, really was.

that stuff makes Hot Dog look like a masterpiece. And bring back the varitone!

Nobody on CTI was occupying a progressive or conceptual space in the public's mind. Hancock however, was always considered a 'progressive' musician, especially by those with more of a foot in the rock camp, even up to his involvement with Laswell.

Is this what your beef is? That he was essentially a conservative musician, who should not be afforded any more privileged status than the more blatantly commercial CTI side of Fusion.

The 'title' Speak Like A Child, reflects the 'Picasso syndrome', that plagued art and music still caught up in Modernist concepts. Ornette was also responsible for this. The music was ahead of the words and concepts, and this reflects the sometimes embarrassing titles and texts used by some musicians (and labels) to represent and frame the music - when it wasn't being marketed to only a Soul Jazz audience. Hancock was not alone in this, and probably didn't spend as much time thinking through the conceptualisation of his words.

Not as much as Joyce anyway :g

First of all, let's wish Herbie a happy 72nd birthday. (Born April 12, 1940)

Now, Allen: In the immortal words of Jeff Spicoli, "Hey, dude, what's your problem?!" Are you saying you've never listened to the record because you don't like the title or are you saying you heard it once but thought the title was so dumb you swore off it forevermore? Either way I'm having a hard time processing. Not liking the music is certainly legitimate, but using the title as a sign of intellectual failure when the music itself is remarkably sophisticated on every level seems like throwing out the baby with the bath water and all that. But, ok, we all live in the world we choose to live in. But for me, I want "Speak Like a Child" as part of my soundtrack options (not to mention the rest of the Blue Notes.) Headhunters, too, for that matter, especially the absolutely killin' live double album from Japan called "Flood." Also, all the Mwandishi band music and much of the later work too -- but certainly not all and I would of course admit he's produced a lot of schlock along the way and that, on the whole, the records in recent decades have not been as satisfying as the live performances that I've heard. But there are exceptions -- I thought the live record with Brecker and Hargrove, etc. was a great jazz recording and I thought the Joni Mitchell record was a great pop record.

But back to the title , which I rather like or at least don't see as any more problematic than, say, "Let My Children Hear Music," "A Child is Born," or "Inka Dinka Doo." Herbie is quoted in the liner notes (by Nat Hentoff) that the title came from Frank Wolff:

"It's a result of a picture that a friend of mine, David Blythewood, took. I dug it so much I brought it to Frank for use as the cover for this album. Frank said it was so evocative a photography becasue of the innocence and naivete in it. And so I started thinking about the quality of innocence when I was writing this song. Clearly the music doesn't sound too much like what's going on today -- war, riots, the stock market getting busted up. And the reason it doesn't I realized is that I'm optimistic. I believe in hope and peace and love. It's not that I'm blind to what's going on, but I feel this music is a foward look into what could be a bright future. The philosophy represented in this number, and to a large extent in the album as a while, is child-like. But not childish. By that I mean there are certain elements of childhood we lose and wish we could have back -- purity, spontaneity. When they do return to us, we're at our best. So what I'm telling the world is: Speak like a child. Thank and feel in terms of hope and the possibilitiesl of making ourselves less impure."

Ok, you might find this all a little too precious and embarassing (I don't), but even if you do, I would suggest, contrary to Freelancer above, that Herbie certainly has thought through pretty deeply the conceptualism behind the words.

Ok yes. Point taken in regard to this title. It's still pretty corny though :)

And he didn't follow through on the concept with...er...the same sense of commitment as Ornette :g

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just a bit of "trivia": i assume most folks don't realize that the cover of the "Speak Like a Child" album was Herbie and his new wife (or about-to-be wife), Gigi. they have now been married approx. 43+ years!

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just a bit of "trivia": i assume most folks don't realize that the cover of the "Speak Like a Child" album was Herbie and his new wife (or about-to-be wife), Gigi. they have now been married approx. 43+ years!

That's committment :g

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just a bit of "trivia": i assume most folks don't realize that the cover of the "Speak Like a Child" album was Herbie and his new wife (or about-to-be wife), Gigi. they have now been married approx. 43+ years!

That's committment :g

On this particular point, I once asked Herbie about being married all of these years to the same person, when the rigors of the music business, the road, etc., had led to so many divorces and broken relationships. He said (and I'm slightly paraphrasing here since I don't have access to notes). "Each of us is responsible for our own happiness."

I thought that was a really interesting answer and wondered the extent to which it might reflect his Buddhist beliefs (or maybe it's just dime-store pyschology found in the pages of Cosmo between perfume ads). But his larger point, that placing the responsibility for your own happiness on the other person in a relationship leads to problems, is something I've never forgotten.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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just a bit of "trivia": i assume most folks don't realize that the cover of the "Speak Like a Child" album was Herbie and his new wife (or about-to-be wife), Gigi. they have now been married approx. 43+ years!

I've always thought that cover design was damned cool - and the music inside it just as good.

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1) this is why I shouldn't go to sleep at night. The next day it's just too hard to catch up on the criticisms. But I will try.

2) would you listen to a song called Penis Variations? Bosoms in the Bayou? My Pinky Hurts? well, you might, but you might not, SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE TITLE. Titles are important, and I WILL NOT LISTEN to Speak Like a Child because it has a bad title, plain and simple - title is part of the composition. That's my opinion. There's also, I think, a similarly dumb Thad Jones title, to a tune I also refuse to listen to. This is my right as an alienated and somewhat brain damaged American. Sorry, it's just the way I am. It's the same reason I can't listen to I Support Genocide by The Aryan Nation, even though their lead guitarist has real chops.

on the other hand, I like Mel Gibson - because his films have excellent titles.

3) OF COURSE you can judge a book by the cover. I have had great luck in this respect, and it helps me filter out most academic books

(anything with the words Contextualization or Child in them).

4) as for Herbie - well, that's fine, there's good music amongst the crap. It's just that there's too much crap. And anyone who can write what's on the soundtrack to Round Midnight deserves some kind of punishment short of a lethal injection. The truth is, I'm tired of hearing rationalizations for bad music. If it's put out to make money, do not be afraid to admit it. Though sometimes those of us who subsist with our own little projects uncompromised are bewildered when musicians who have so much more success and money and power and who can take the time to do quality work insist on doing crap. But I guess that's their right, as alienated and somewhat brain damaged Americans.

5) I'm sorry Valerie, whom I like very much, is mad at me. But she should probably re-cuse herself due to her personal friendship with Mr and Mrs Herbie.

6) where's Moms when I need her?

(please note also that, though I express my opinions with some gusto, I have made no personal attacks against anyone on Organissimo in the previous grafs, nor have I questioned anyone's sanity except my own).

Edited by AllenLowe

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Allen, lots of song titles and album covers were not chosen by the artists, but by producers. So, should we hold the producer's choice against the artist? And plenty of examples have been posted on this board of covers that don't well represent the music, to say the least.

OTOH, Thad's A Child is Born lives up to the schmaltz of the title.

I'm wary of titles in general, and I know how arbitrary the choice can be, as well as deliberate at times. But I think "programmatic" titles can lead the witness in bad ways, hence folks assuming that there's something inherently "spiritual" (a word that's like a Rohrschach test anyway) about the MUSICAL CONTENT of A Love Supreme. I wish Trane had called that piece something like Paper Toilet.

Edited by Pete C

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Just for the record, I too would pass on a song called "I Support Genocide" based on the title, unless, perhaps, there was a satiric intent ala "Springtime for Hitler." On the other hand, I now prefer to avoid Mel Gibson movies because it seems clear that he considers "I Support Genocide" by The Arayan Nation to be a great anthem. Good actor though ...

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