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Herbie Hancock - Man-Child CD (album) cover

MAN-CHILD

Herbie Hancock

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 40 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars When I first heard this album back in 75 it struck me as a commercial sell-out. Certainly coming on the heels of the previous hyper abstract jazz avant-funk of Thrust, Man Child is more slicked up and maybe a little bit discofied, but I'm glad I revisited this gem because it rates right up there with some of Herbie's best. This album is mid-70s ultra-slick and reflects the then growing post-hippie move towards an urban cool ascetic. Gone is the frenetic soloing and sparse syncopated textures of Thrust, but in their place we get some of Hancock's best electronic/acoustic orchestrations that float on top of sophisticated interlocking funk rhythm patterns. This album moves beyond funk as introduced by Sly Stone and others, and carries the genre into complicated intersecting patterns that recall classic traditional African music and/or modern day minimalism.

It's that ultra-smooth sound of this album that turned me off in the past, but I now find to be one of it's main attractions. In a lot of ways this album recalls Herbie's 60s post-Miles work in which he backed his Debussy/lounge piano stylings with a mini orchestra for that ultimate loungecore-jazz meets mid-20th century composers sound. To further their appeal, the more laid back songs on Man Child have that 'modern in any era' sound that would have been perfect for cosmic martinis aboard the 60s version of The Starship Enterprise, or maybe one of the more avant early James Bond flicks.

Along with the three 'slow jams' we also get three up-tempo funk numbers, but this is funk Herbie style. Not as raw or bold as the JBs or Sly, Hancock's funk has a polished intellectual approach that weaves countless instruments together in a dense contrapuntal texture that is damn near impossible to reproduce with the relaxed finesse that this crew has. Although Herbie's playing on here tends to reflect the 'cool' approach of the music, on Hearbeat he unleashes one of his classic aggressive RnB meets McCoy Tyner solos.

Although once suspect as a possible part of the growing disco culture that spawned it, a few decades later, and totally removed from that culture, this album has taken on new life as the perfect combination of Hancock's 60s cool jazz, and his early 70s jazz/funk.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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