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Composed: 1968-1969

Length: c. 11 minutes

Orchestration: 2 flutes, alto flute, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, chimes, congas, dumbek, gong, shaker, tambourine,tam-tam, triangle), harp, strings, and solo jazz ensemble

About this Piece

I Have a Dream is the first track on The Prisoner, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been assassinated the year before the album was released by Blue Note in 1969. Hancock had brought the tune to Miles Davis in January, 1968, four months before King was murdered. About the same time, Hancock left Davis’ quintet (although he continued to record with Davis on several projects), and formed his own sextet, with which he recorded The Prisoner, his last album for Blue Note.

Lyrically reflective but not solemn or sedate, I Have a Dream is an airy, optimistic piece. “Generally speaking, I’ve been able to get closer to the real me with this album than on any other previous one,” Hancock said in Herb Wong’s notes for the original album. “I want my music to evolve toward a point where it can contain that part of me that is relatively most musical to people – but in a jazz climate that can communicate to the general public.

“I am trying to write hummable tunes with a kind of rhythmic element people can be infected with,” he continued, “and one key to the rhythmic thing is the duple meter.”