This, one of Tippett's earliest acknowledged works, is one of his most popular. The music relates the true story of a young German Jew who, terrified and enraged at the treatment of his mother, kills a Nazi officer and touches off a violent pogrom. Tippett adopts the structure of Bach's Passions, in which arias alternate with choruses and Lutheran hymns (chorales), although in place of the chorales Tippett substitutes magnificently moving Negro spirituals. "A Child of our Time" offers music of rage, poignancy, and deep compassion. As the title itself implies, it is both specific to a certain time and place, and universal as well. No lover of classical music can afford to ignore it.
John Hicks is heard with his working trio on what is likely his final recording, made two months to the day prior to his unexpected death. With bassist Buster Williams and drummer Louis Hayes, also seasoned veterans and bandleaders themselves, the set list for this well-recorded studio session is a hard bop lover's feast, drawing from both familiar and less frequently heard repertoire. Hicks throws quite a few curves into Gigi Gryce's "Minority" by tossing in a few vamps then getting right to business with improvising rather than bothering to offer a chorus of its theme, with Williams' fleet bassline and Hayes' brushwork powering him in full flight. The leader's sole original is a salute to Cedar Walton, an upbeat piece called "As Birds Fly (Walton's Mountain)" in which the musicians easily scale its heights. The bassist contributed two originals, including the lush, somewhat moody "Strivers Jewels" and the delicate tribute to his then-young niece "Christina." Hayes is an asset throughout the recording, particularly standing out in the powerful interpretation of Dexter Gordon's "Cheesecake".