Freddie Hubbard
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Open Sesame (1960), 6/10
Goin' Up (1961), 5.5/10
Hub Cap (1961), 5.5/10
Ready for Freddie (1962), 6.5/10
Artistry (1962), 7/10
Hubtones (1963), 6/10
The Body and the Soul (1963), 6/10
Breaking Point (1964), 7/10
Blue Spirits (1965), 6/10
Backlash (1966), 5.5/0
High Blues Pressure (1967), 6/10
The Black Angel (1969), 6.5/10
Red Clay (1970), 7/10
Straight Life (1970), 7/10
First Light (1971), 7/10
Sky Dive (1972), 6/10
Keep Your Soul Together (1973), 6.5/10

The natural heir to Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan was another prodigy, Freddie Hubbard (1938), whose pedigree included Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (1960), several albums with Art Blakey (1961-66), also composing Up Jumped Spring (march 1962), several albums with Herbie Hancock (1962-65), Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch (1964), and John Coltrane's Ascension (1965). His trumpet style wed crisp melodic outbursts and languid bluesy tones, making it a perfect instrument for the kind of slick fusion that became popular after Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. He had debuted as a leader at 22 with Open Sesame (june 1960), by a quintet with tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Clifford Jarvis that shone on Brooks' Open Sesame and Gypsy Blue and Hubbard's Hub's Nub (april 1961). Similar all-star groups had helped him out on Goin' Up (november 1960) featuring Hank Mobley on tenor, Tyner, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, and contained Blues For Brenda, while Hub Cap (april 1961), a sextet session with tenor-saxophonist Jimmy Heath, trombonist Julian Priester and pianist Cedar Walton, had yielded Hub Cap. Ready For Freddie (august 1961) by a sextet with tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Tyner, bassist Art Davis, drummer Elvin Jones and Bernard McKinney on euphonium, had already displayed Hubbard at his best (Birdlike and Crisis), but more experimental compositions surfaced on the following, less famous, recordings: Bob's Place and Seventh Day (july 1962), off Artistry, by a sextet with trombonist Curtis Fuller, tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Art Davis and drummer Louis Hayes; Lament for Booker and Hub Tones (october 1962), off Hub-Tones, by a quintet with James Spaulding on alto and flute, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Clifford Jarvis; Aries and Thermo (march 1963), off The Body And The Soul, by a larger ensemble featuring Wayne Shorter, Eric Dolphy and Cedar Walton; Breaking Point and Far Away (may 1964), off Breaking Point, by a quintet with James Spaulding on alto and flute, pianist Ronnie Matthews, bassist Eddie Khan and drummer Joe Chambers; Blue Spirits and Outer Forces (february 1965), off Blue Spirits, for a septet with Spaulding, tenor Hank Mobley, euphonium player Kiane Zawadi, McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Pete La Roca on drums; Little Sunflower (october 1966), off Backlash; High Blues Pressure and For B.P., off High Blues Pressure (november 1967), with Spaulding, tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin, pianist Kenny Barron, Kiane Zawadi on euphonium, Howard Johnson on tuba.
The conversion to jazz-rock began with The Black Angel (may 1969), particularly the 17-minute Spacetrack, a jam highlighted by Spaulding, Workman and Barron. The new, lush style was consolidated on Red Clay (january 1970), by a quintet featuring tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Lenny White, in lengthy, dynamic and fluid tracks such as Red Clay and The Intrepid Fox. The 17-minute Straight Life, off Straight Life (november 1970), featuring Henderson, Hancock, guitarist George Benson, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette, was the natural evolution of that chamber-jazz sound. The band (essentially the same line-up without Henderson and with Airto Moreira) for First Light (september 1971) played even more electric, and the sound, arranged for chamber orchestra by Don Sebesky, was even more baroque, but the material was inferior, with only First Light worthy of its predecessors. The 15-minute Povo, on Sky Dive (october 1972), retained only Benson and Carter, adding Hubert Laws on flute, Keith Jarrett on piano and Billy Cobham on drums (and a horn section to provide the lush ambience). The four jams of Keep Your Soul Together (october 1973), instead, were performed "only" by a septet of less prestigious players (Keep Your Soul Together, Spirits Of Trane). But mostly he recorded trivial fusion jazz for lounges. Eventually he returned to his hard-bop and bebop roots.

Hubbard died in 2008 at 70.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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