Herbie Hancock: Riot




Herbie Hancock (piano)


Speak Like a Child (Blue Note)

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Herbie Hancock (piano), Thad Jones (flugelhorn), Ron Carter (bass), Mickey Roker (drums),

Peter Phillips (bass trombone), Jerry Dodgion (alto flute)


Composed by Herbie Hancock


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., March 6, 1968


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

I love “Riot” from Speak Like a Child, and I also like a song from that record called “First Trip.” In fact, every tune on Speak Like A Child has something special—I love the whole date. Herbie sounds so exuberant. It has a personal association, because Mickey Roker, who played in Philly a lot, is the drummer, and his swing is so effervescent and so clear. As a young musician I would always ask him what it was like to play with Herbie on Speak Like A Child.

On "Riot” I like the marriage between a very sophisticated arrangement and a group structure in which a small ensemble is playing versus Herbie’s solo. There’s one moment when Herbie has finished the first part of the solo, the ensemble comes in, sets up the next part, and Herbie hits this perfect chord. You get the feeling that he’s reacted to what’s going on with the arrangement that he wrote, but also that he found this new area, and BOOM, he hit this chord and he’s off again. The rhythm section (Ron Carter is playing bass) is propulsive, it’s grooving in a sort of medium swing, and Herbie’s killing it—he’s playing one new idea after another, line after line after line, and it goes on and on. He combines a lot of the things that make his style so instantly recognizable—there’s the real bluesy feel and swinging touch, but he also puts in a lot of unexpected, quirky things, a lot of rhythmic devices that work against the swing, and then also he really is the master of setting things and using tension-and-release.

Reviewer: Uri Caine

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