© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“Freddie Hubbard was one of the liveliest of the young hard-bop lions of the late 1950s and early '60s. As a Jazz Messenger, and with his own early albums for Blue Note, he set down so many great solos that trumpeters have made studies of him to this day, the burnished tone, bravura phrasing and rhythmical subtleties still enduringly modern. He never quite had the quickfire genius of Lee Morgan, but he had a greater all-round strength, and he is an essential player in the theatre of hard bop.
His several Blue Note dates seem to come and go in the catalogue, but we are listing Open Sesame, Goin' Up (though it is a 'Connoisseur' limited edition) and the new Rudy van Gelder edition of Hub-Tones, each a vintage example of Blue Note hard bop. Open Sesame and Goin’ Up were his first two records for the label and their youthful ebullience is still exhilarating, the trumpeter throwing off dazzling phrases almost for the sheer fun of it.
The brio of the debut is paired with the sense that this was the important coming-out of a major talent, and Hubbard's solo on the title-track is a remarkable piece of brinkmanship: in the bonus alternative take, he's a shade cooler, but that more tempered effort is less exciting, too. This was an early appearance for Tyner, and a valuable glimpse of Tina Brooks, who contributes two tunes and plays with his particular mix of elegance and fractious temper. A great Blue Note set.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.
“Freddie Hubbard's style is a highly unusual mixture of elements, blended with extraordinary cohesion. He is a deeply lyrical player, somewhat in the manner of Miles Davis. Unlike many young trumpet players who have been influenced by Davis, however, Hubbard has sacrificed none of his formidable technique. He is easily at home in all ranges of his instrument, from the slashing, accurate high notes … to the ruminations in the lower register of the instrument. There is, above all, an exuberance in his horn that functions as a happy antidote to much of the overly introverted work that characterizes the present area. One need say nothing more about his skill and versatility than to report that he has recorded with Blakey, Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman.
Hubbard has come into his own as a powerful, individual jazz personality.”
- Joe Goldberg, insert notes to Hub-Tones
“The early sixties was a period of remarkable excitement and activity at the Blue Note label. The fiery, explorative jazz that was a hallmark of Blue Note in those years never reached that wide an audience, but the quality and consistency of the music, and of the young, adventurous players who were making it, was remarkable.
Freddie Hubbard, who recorded prolifically for Blue Note as both leader and sideman (with Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock and others), was an integral part of what the label was all about.
Hubbard was in a way the ideal Blue Note musician. He fit right into the hot and heavy musical milieu that mixed elements of bop, down-home funk, the "free jazz" that Ornette Coleman and others were pioneering, and the modal approach of John Coltrane and his disciples to produce a body of music that served as a welcome relief from the increasingly effete and restrained sounds of what came to be known as "cool" jazz.
He attacked the trumpet in a way that emphasized the brassy nature of the instrument — its attention-getting volume, its upper-register power, the golden clarity of its sound. Trumpeters since Louis Armstrong (if not earlier) had been approaching the instrument this way, but at the time Hubbard came along, the influence of Miles Davis had led a lot of trumpeters to opt for an introspective, moody, almost wispy approach to the horn (in many cases a whole lot wispier than Miles, who always had considerable force
behind his introspective musings, ever intended). Hubbard's mixture of forward-looking musical ideas and old-fashioned brassiness might be called the essence of the early-sixties Blue Note sound.”
- Peter Keepnews, insert notes, Freddie Hubbard, Here To Stay
Sooner or later if you were a fan of the exciting Jazz LPs that Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff were putting out on Blue Note from 1955-1965, you were certain to [metaphorically] attend a “class” at Ira Gitler College, the Nat Hentoff Institute or at Leonard Feather University.
Of course, the “class” in question was to be found in the form of the liner notes by Messrs Gitler, Hentoff, Feather and other “instructors” that graced the back of these Blue Note albums and provided its reader with an “education” about the recordings musicians and content.
I always found the liner notes on these Blue Note albums to be invaluable because in those days there were few other avenues available that would take you to sources of information on Jazz and its makers.
There were no Jazz appreciation classes, only a handful of newly published books each year on the subject, mostly biographies or brief collections of essays, and a few television programs now and then that were more intent on presenting the music rather than explaining it.
Other than a subscription to monthly Jazz magazines like Down Beat, Jazz Monthly, Le Jazz Hot and a few other domestic and European journals, the main source of information and knowledge about Jazz came from the writers and critics who were retained to annotate the music on Jazz recordings.
As a way of thanking these “teachers,” we often share these pages with their writings and critiques.
There’s too much to absorb in presenting all of these recordings in one feature so I am going to focus on four of the seven LPs that Freddie made for Blue Note during the 5 years spanning 1960-65 while adding a YouTube track to give you a sampling of the music on each album represented in this piece.
If you are not familiar with the music on these early Freddie Hubbard Blue Notes, you should be as it is nothing short of brilliant from every perspective.
The clarity, crispness and clarion quality of Freddie’s tone on trumpet is unsurpassed by anything he recorded in later years. The fat, middle register is dominant with occasional forays into the rarely heard lower register on the instrument; none of the reaching for high note, lip-busting screaming that [sadly] characterized his playing in later years.
He’s not reaching for anything here; he’s totally in control of what he’s trying to bring through the horn. Everything just sparkles with the freshness and joy of accomplishment.
His improvisatory ideas flow uninterruptedly despite their complexity. They are memorably melodic and always swinging. In the parlance of the time, Freddie was really cooking and all the pots were on during this nascent period of his career.
These early Hubbard Blue Notes are also distinguished by their great front line mates, their superb mix of tunes and songs from the Great American Songbook, Jazz standards [Kenny Dorham, Tina Brooks, Hank Mobley] and originals by Freddie, and their always hard-driving rhythm sections, especially the ones led by Philly Joe Jones.
Let’s turn to our liner note writers for a further education on what’s contained in these early Freddie Hubbard Blue Notes and what makes them so special.
First up is a “class taught” by Ira Gitler in his notes to:
Freddie Hubbard - Open Sesame [Blue Note LP 4040; CDP 7 84040 2]
“TO THOSE of you familiar with the tales of The Arabian Nights, more specifically the story of All Baba and the Forty Thieves, the words "open sesame!" represent the magic password which opened the doors to the robbers' cave. As with many phrases from literature, the expression has found its way into our language and contemporary usage. It still has the same basic connotation — door-opener.
This album is an "open sesame" for two doors. One is being opened by Blue Note on an extremely talented young trumpet player named Freddie Hubbard by giving him his first date as a leader; the other by Hubbard himself through his playing in this set.
If you travel around the United States you will encounter many fine musicians who have never been heard outside of their particular area. There is much undiscovered talent that may never be brought to the light of public scrutiny. On the other hand, much important talent is being discovered and re-discovered by the necessities brought about by the current economic set-up of jazz with its emphasis on heavy recording schedules.
Certainly Blue Note has been an "Ali Baba" before mass production (Monk, Blakey, Silver, Clifford Brown, etc.) and is equally judicious in its choice of talent today. Although Hubbard is only 22 and his future lies glowingly ahead, with promise of greater things to come, there is no doubt that he is ready to be heard at length right now.
Freddie is from Indianapolis, the same city which gave Jay Jay Johnson and the Montgomery brothers to jazz. Born in the Indiana capital on April 7,1938 into a musical family, Frederick Dewayne Hubbard started playing mellophone in the band at John Hope Junior High School and migrated to trumpet after a year. At Arsenal Tech High, he continued on trumpet and also took up French horn. It was on the latter instrument that he received a scholarship to Indiana Central College. He declined this, however, and remained in Indianapolis to attend the Jordan Conservatory of Music for a year. Freddie also studied with Max Woodbury of the Indianapolis Symphony. During this period he worked around the area with a group called The Contemporaries and with the Montgomery brothers (Wes, Buddy and Monk).
In 1958, Freddie came to New York and played at Turbo Village, first with baritone saxophonist Jay Cameron and then with his own group. It was there I first heard him. At Cameron's urging, I journeyed to Brooklyn and was properly impressed. There were two sitters-in that Saturday night who were also taken with what they heard — Horace Silver and Philly Joe Jones. Philly thereupon hired Hubbard for a gig he was playing at Birdland. In April of 1959 he went to San Francisco with Sonny Rollins. All told he was with Sonny for two months. In 1960 he did Monday nights at Birdland and played with Charlie Persip's group and Slide Hampton's Octet before joining Jay Jay Johnson's sextet.
Freddie admires the playing of Miles Davis (his first influence), Clifford Brown and Kenny Dorham. He also likes the tenor playing of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins and admits that they have had their effect on him too. "I was heavily influenced by Newk for two months after I stopped working with him", says Freddie.
Another tenor man that Hubbard digs is Tina Brooks. Tina is from the Bronx by way of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He gained playing experience with the R&B bands of Sonny Thompson, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Joe Morris and Lionel Hampton but a lot of important jazz knowledge was made available to him by trumpeter Benny Harris. Since the opening of [Jack Gelber’s play] The Connection, Tina has been Jackie McLean's understudy and has subbed for him on several occasions.
Hubbard and Brooks met at a session at Count Basie's club and immediately found that their styles were compatible. In addition to making this date with Freddie, as Tina has also recorded one at his own, using Freddie as his helpmate on Blue Note 4041. Actually, he is no stranger to this label, having done all his previous recording for Blue Note with Jimmy Smith and Kenny Burrell, respectively.
Tina's early influences were Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and Charlie Parker. He is very much in favor of Sonny Rollins and there is more than a hint of Hank Mobley in his playing. In this album, his composing is represented by the title number and Gypsy Blue; his arranging by But Beautiful.
The rhythm section consists of two youngsters and a veteran. McCoy Tyner, the young Philadelphian who made his debut in the big time with the Jazzlet and has recently been a member of John Coltrane's quartet, is one of the most facile new pianists to come on the scene in the past year. Facility is not his only attribute; he knows what he wants to say and his dexterity helps him to be articulate but not verbose.
Clifford Jarvis is a drummer from Boston who has been working with Randy Weston. Although not yet 20, Clifford handles himself very professionally, knows where the beat is and lays it down with the exuberance of his years.
The veteran is Sam Jones (a young 35), the Jacksonville, Florida product who has played with Tiny Bradshaw, Kenny Dorham, Thelonious Monk and is currently with Cannonball Adderley. His presence is a steadying factor at any record date. In July of 1960, he won a new star award in the Down Beat International Critics' Poll.
Open Sesame really opens things in a swinging minor groove right out of the old Messengers or the Horace Silver quintet. All the soloists are directly communicative. Freddie has some fun with a phrase from Illinois Jacquet's
solo on Flyin' Home.
The two ballads in the set are treated differently. But Beautiful is treated very sensitively with Freddie's tone and ability to sustain a slow performance outstanding. All Or Nothing At All is hit full tilt with Jarvis slashing away, straight ahead. Later, Cliff comes in for some exciting "fours".
Brooks' Gypsy Blue is a touching theme that almost takes you to a Jewish wedding. When the soloists play, they are working on a minor, 12-bar blues. Jones has his only solo of the set.
One Mint Julep, first done by The Clovers, is out of the R&B bag. Freddie used to do it at Turbo Village and revived it here. Both hornmen are "down" and powerful but never hokey.
Freddie's original, Hub's Nub, which serves as the closer, shows this thoughtful control of the horn in front of the solidly driving rhythm section. Tina again generates a great deal of genuine excitement in his solo without resorting to any contrived devices.
One night when Slide Hampton was appearing at the Jazz Gallery, I looked at Freddie, upon the stand, and suddenly a certain picture of a young Louis Armstrong that I had once seen, popped into my mind's eye and drew its resemblance to Hubbard. Whether Freddie is ever going to reach the stature of Louis Armstrong is not important. What is, is that here is a brilliant young jazzman on the threshold of a potentially great career. His trumpet is his "open sesame". The door is open.” - IRA GITLER
And Ira Gitler is instructing again in these original notes to:
Freddie Hubbard - Goin’ Up [Blue Note BST 84056; CDP 7243 8 59380 2 3]
“IN 1960, Freddie Hubbard was an up-and-coming trumpeter. Although he hasn't nearly approached his full potential, it can be said that he is no longer merely "up-and-coming". More accurately, Hubbard is "up-and-going" or, like the many new skyscrapers in New York, going up.
Hubbard is typical of many of the young musicians in jazz today in that he comes extremely well-equipped technically. Unlike many other youngsters, he does not believe that jazz began with his age group. This, no doubt, is one of the reasons he does not misuse his mechanical skills but instead uses them as a means of expression. Stylistically, he shows a debt to Clifford Brown but even at this early stage of his career, Freddie has forged a readily identifiable sound and attack.
Hubbard's first Blue Note recording, Open Sesame (BLP 4040), met with this reaction from John Tynan of Down Beat "The trumpeter is an emerging soloist of great promise. He plays with a big, strongly assertive tone, mature ideational conception and forthrightness of conviction."
Open Sesame was done with Tina Brooks, McCoy Tyner, Sam Jones, and Clifford Jarvis. Jones is the only member of that group older than 28. On this, Tynan commented, "There's a youthful virility and expressiveness in this initial album of young Hubbard (22) that speaks well for the future of small-group jazz."
In Goin' Up, Freddie is cast with musicians who, while not gray-beards, are modern jazz veterans of great experience. They are Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones. On the other hand, Paul Chambers is a youngster but only chronologically speaking. He has been in New York since 1954 and with Miles Davis from 1955. And McCoy Tyner, the "baby" of the supporting troupe, has divided his playing time between The Jazztet and John Coltrane's quartet since leaving Philadelphia in 1959. "They sure gave me strong support", says Freddie of his helpers.
Mobley has been familiar to Blue Note listeners since the days of his associations with Art Blakey and Horace Silver. He has come to his own personal maturity after many years at his art. We heard it in his work on Dizzy Reece's Star Bright (Blue Note 4023) and even more definitely in his own Soul Station (Blue Note 4031). In Goin' Up, Hank reaffirms his assurance and well integrated style. As Joe Goldberg said of Mobley's arrival, in the notes to Soul Station, "he worked slowly and carefully, in the manner of a craftsman, building the foundation of a style, taking what he needed to take from whom he needed to take it (everyone does that, the difference between genius and hack-work is the manner in which it is done)...."
Philly Joe Jones is one of jazz's great drummers. He combines swing and invention as few others can. Joe has studied drumming from the inside; his knowledge of drummers and their styles goes back to Sid Catlett and even Baby Dodds. Young drummers who idolize Philly should realize that he did not spring stylistically full-grown and learn a lesson therein. His solos always demand and hold attention. "Karioka" is a good example.
As indicated before, Paul Chambers is a young veteran. This may sound paradoxical, but Paul's playing never does. He not only provides a powerful pulse but his choice of notes is imaginative, thereby making his value to a soloist a two-pronged inspiration. His own solos, arco or pizzicato, are usually well above average. Listen to his effort on "Blues For Brenda."
McCoy Tyner is like Hubbard in that he possesses much technique but does not show off with it. Instead he utilizes it to meet the demands of some of the demonic tempos that occur in today's jazz. He receives many opportunities along these lines in Coltrane's group. When the tempo slows for a ballad, however, Tyner is not at a loss either as he demonstrates on "I Wished I Knew."
Kenny Dorham is one of the most underappreciated trumpet stylists. Also overlooked is his prowess as a writer. Hubbard requisitioned two arrangements from Dorham and Kenny responded with two typically fine examples of his work.
"Asiatic Raes" (recorded by Sonny Rollins on Newk's Time, Blue Note 4001) has also been recorded by composer Dorham as "Lotus Blossom." Its constantly fresh melody and interesting harmonic pattern lend themselves to inspired improvisation to all the principals. Chambers has a bowed solo before Hubbard and Jones exchange some highly charged "fours." Philly is especially effective in the closing portions of the arrangement.
"Karioka" again provides that Dorham is lyrical even when he is swinging hard. Hubbard's rhythmic construction of his solo is of a caliber beyond his years. Mobley soars with the ever-energizing Jones and Chambers digging in behind him. Then listen to the way Philly backs the lean, clear Tyner offering. This is quiet strength that prefaces his very masculine solo mentioned before.
The first of two Hank Mobley originals in this set, separates the two Dorham numbers on side A. "The Changing Scene" is in the minor and placed in a groovy, medium tempo. Mobley's combination of thought and power abounds in his lead-off solo. Hubbard's horn literally sings his solo. It is acknowledged that the saxophone is the closest instrument to the human voice but here Freddie makes his trumpet sound very vocal.
Mobley's "A Peck A Sec." is a "Rhythm" [based on the chords to I’ve Got Rhythm] swinger, dedicated to getting the soloists off and blowing, which is just what it does. Both horn-men are most convincing and Tyner's right hand facility was never more clearly demonstrated. Jones has a short solo before the close.
"I Wished I Knew" is a melancholy but beautiful ballad by Billy Smith, a tenor saxophonist friend of Freddie's. (This is not the same Billy Smith who recorded with Thelonious Monk on Blue Note 1511.) Everyone performs with sensitivity and depth, with Hubbard's sound and delivery again belying his years.
Freddie's only written contribution to the date is "Blues For Brenda," penned for his recent bride. It continues the minor-key trend that most of the material in this album follows. Freddie's fire is burning brightly and when he passes the torch to Mobley, Hank doesn't lay it down. Tyner shines and then Chambers spins out one of his gems.
After J.J. Johnson disbanded in 1960, Freddie Hubbard kept busy in a variety of ways. One was participation in the activities at the School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts. Growing out of this were appearances with composer-conductor Ed Summerlin in a series of TV programs for Look Up And Live on CBS. Later he spent some time in the trumpet section of Quincy Jones' orchestra when that organization returned to America for a Basin Street East debut. Then, there were Hubbard's recordings for Blue Note. Open Sesame opened the door in 1960. Goin' Up indicates Freddie's direction for 1961.” -IRA GITLER
Leonard Feather does the instructing honors in these original notes to:
Freddie Hubbard - Hub Cap [Blue Note BST 84073; CDP 0777 7 84073 2 4]
“A FEW weeks ago I was chatting with Miles Davis about the present direction and future potential of jazz. I asked, "Can you think of any young soloists at all who have really impressed you during the past year?"
Miles reflected a moment, then said, "I'll tell you one young trumpet player I really like — Freddie Hubbard."
The endorsement of Freddie by Miles was particularly relevant to our discussion about trends, since the qualities Miles had cited as essential and inevitable—melody, formula, form and good tone—are all conspicuously present In the work of Freddie Hubbard in general, and on this latest album in particular.
Since his has been such a fast and recent rise to eminence that he was not included in The New Encyclopedia of Jazz, and since not all listeners to the present LP may be familiar with his previous sets, a brief recap of his biography follows. Born April 7, 1938 in Indianapolis, he played mellophone, trumpet and French horn in high school bands, and his French horn work won him a scholarship to Indiana Central College; he turned this down, though, to spend a year studying at Jordan Conservatory and with a local symphony musician.
After gigging locally with the Montgomery Brothers and with a combo called The Contemporaries, Hubbard came to new York at the age of 20, gigged with Jay Cameron and Philly Joe, then spent a couple of months in 1959 with Sonny Rollins. He later gigged with Charlie Persip and Slide Hampton, toured with Jay Jay Johnson's Sextet for some months until it disbanded, and has since been back with the Hampton group (Slide, like Freddie, was raised in Indianapolis, but left home a couple of years ahead of him).
These are only the bare facts of Freddie's brief career to date. Behind them, of course, He a number of other, more significant factors, notably Freddie's continued artistic and technical development, his widening acceptance among fellow-musicians around New York (Miles' enthusiasm is typical), and his growth as a composer and arranger. On his first two albums (Open Sesame, BLP 4040 and Goin’ Up, 4056), Freddie was represented as a writer only once in each set. The present session shows him in this role on four of the six tunes, and three of these four were arranged as well as composed by Freddie.
As Ira Gitler observed in his comments on the Goin' Up date, Freddie "does not misuse his mechanical skills but instead uses them as a means of expression. Stylistically, he shows a debt to Clifford Brown but...has forged a readily identifiable sound and attack." These are strong words of praise for a performer who, at 23, may have a long way to go to reach his full potential; yet they are well substantiated by the evidence at hand.
These sides have a distinctly different flavor from the two previous LPs, largely because of the change in ensemble character effected by the use of three horns. A trumpet-and-tenor front line, such as was employed on the earlier sets, usually involves the use of relatively simple ensemble passages played mainly in unison, because of the limitations of two-part harmony; but a three-piece melody section, created here by the addition of trombone, enables the writers to give the group a more intricate and orchestral sound, through the use of three-part harmony and of contrapuntal devices.
Jimmy Heath, 34, is the elder brother of bassist Percy and drummer Al. First heard in the early bop years with Howard McGhee and Dizzy Gillespie, he later worked with Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Kenny Dorham and recorded for Blue Note with, among other, Miles and Jay Jay. Julian Priester, a 26-year-old Chicagoan, worked with Lionel Hampton, Dinah Washington and Max Roach, and has been a colleague of Freddie's in the Slide Hampton octet.
Cedar Walton, the 27-year-old pianist from Dallas, came to New York in 1955, gigged with Lou Donaldson and Gigi Gryce, and was with Jay Jay for the better part of two years. Larry Ridley, an Indianapolis contemporary of Freddie's, is 23 and worked there with him in a collage band; he came to New York late in 1960 and has worked with a group led by Philly Joe Jones, whose indomitable personality lends its sound to this Hubbard sextet session as it has to so many other memorable Blue Note dates.
Hub Cap, which is Freddie's nickname, is a minor theme (the minor mode, you will notice, dominates this album). The value of the three way front line becomes apparent in the release of the first chorus, and again in the four-bar launching figure employed in the second (and dynamically underlined by Philly Joe). Freddie's work takes full advantage of the excitement created by this up tempo and by the sturdily driving rhythm section, yet he never overreaches into flamboyancy and never sacrifices tone or sensitive phrasing to technical effects.
Cry Me Not, which in Freddie's modest opinion is "the most interesting tune on the record" (all but one of the rest were his own compositions), was composed specially for the session by Randy Weston, whose successes with waltzes have tended to obscure the fact that he is an equally brilliant writer in the regular 4/4 meter. Like most of Randy's works, this one was arranged by Melba Liston, the gifted alumna of Quincy Jones' trombone section and writing team. The three-horn scoring is used with great skill here, and intriguing use is made of Cedar Walton's arpeggios to supply continuity. Freddie's work has a sustained loveliness and passion throughout, all the way to the exotic ending,
Luana, named for Freddie's niece, is a stays-on-your-mind sort of theme, built on triads. The quiet mood established by Freddie is well preserved by Heath, Priester, Walton and Ridley, leading to to a dramatic but never melodramatic finale.
Osie Mae ("it just sounded like a funky name to me," explains Freddie) has an A-B-A-B pattern. Heath's tone somehow seems particularly well suited to minor themes. Priester clearly shows his debt to Jay Jay. Note the brilliant rhythm support behind Freddie's surging solo.
Plexus, aside from being the title of a Henry Miller novel, means a network or arrangement of parts and is thus a fitting title for the work, in which Cedar Walton assembled some well-integrated, mood-evoking parts for three horns in this particular plexus. Freddie's work on this track is an outstanding example of his fluency. Note the tension-and-release contrast between the extended eighth-note forays and the simpler suspension-like passages using mainly long notes. After Philly's solo, there is a three-way exchange between his interjections, the horns' statements and the piano-and-bass figures to bring the performance to what Hollywood might call an action-packed finale.
Earmon Jr. is named for Freddie's brother, now working as a pianist in Indianapolis. Composed by Freddie, it was arranged for this date by Ed Summerlin, the composer and saxophonist with whom Freddie has been studying. (Freddie was featured on the Look Up and Live CBS telecasts with Summerlin, whose jazz-oriented writing for a Methodist Sunday church service created a sensation in 1959.) Walton and Ridley, as well as all three horns, distinguish themselves in blowing passages.
Hub Cap marks an important new step in Freddie Hubbard's career as an ambitious young playing and writing talent. The hub-cap, clearly ready to evolve into a big wheel in musical circles has never spun to fuller advantage than on these sides.” -LEONARD FEATHER
Although 1962 saw two releases by Freddie Hubbard on Blue Note - Hub Tones [BST 84115 CDP 7 84115 2] and Ready for Freddie [BST - 84085 CDP 7243 8 32094 2 2], I am going to represent the liner notes to the latter LP to close this piece because they are written by the esteemed Nat Hentoff, one of my most favorite Jazz “teachers.”
Ready for Freddie [BST - 84085 CDP 7243 8 32094 2 2]
“THE careers of most young jazzmen grow — if they grow at all — through a series of plateaus. The newcomer generally settles into a predictable style after his first couple of albums and then only gradually indicates increased authority and individuality. Freddie Hubbard has been a marked exception. Both in live appearances and in his albums (his three as leader for Blue Note have been Open Sesame, Blue Note 4040, Goin' Up, Blue Note 4056, and Hub Cap, Blue Note 4073), Hubbard has ascended swiftly. As LeRoi Jones said in Metronome of Goin’ Up: "His swift, clean articulation of seemingly complex and sometimes highly imaginative ideas makes him one of the finest young trumpet players on the scene."
In my own case, I become thoroughly converted through Freddie's work on Hank Mobley's Roll Call (Blue Note 4058) on which Freddie demonstrated much more than technical brilliance. His sweeping lines, authoritative beat, and crackling, brass-proud tone clearly heralded the arrival of a fresh, maturing soloist. It is in this new album, I feel, that Hubbard goes even farther than before in terms of fuller and more personal self-expression. He is convinced that it's the best he's made yet because the music on the date — and his choice of sidemen — represent more strongly than ever before the directions he prefers to explore.
"So far as I can put it into words," says Hubbard, "the way in which I'm most interested in going is Coltrane-like. I mean different ways of playing the changes so that you get a wider play of colors and of the emotions that those colors reveal." Accordingly, Hubbard chose two men from Coltrane's rhythm section and a third — Art Davis — who has played with Coltrane during the letter's New York engagements. Drummer Elvin Jones has long been recognized by musicians as one of the most stimulating of all modern drummers. During the 1961 Monterey Jazz Festival, for example, musicians in the audience were concentrating as intently on Jones as they were on Coltrane; and for the rest of that night and into the next day, much of the talk at the festival was about Jones' remarkable range of rhythmic imagination. "Elvin," Hubbard explains, "doesn't play straight time; his sock cymbal doesn't hit on two all the time. He has such a loose feeling. His time is always flowing, and because he keeps changing rhythms so ingeniously over the basic meter, he keeps recharging the soloist. Also he always knows when to build behind you — and when not to."
McCoy Tyner is Hubbard's favorite among the younger pianists. "He's continually trying different ways on the changes," says Hubbard, "and he really brings it off, getting different sounds than most of the others do. He does it better than anyone else I know, except maybe for Bill Evans." Art Davis, to this annotator’s ear, is the most commandingly accomplished of all the newer bassists. In the tradition of George Duvivier, his technique is flawless, his tone is full and firm; and he lays down a sure pulsation that could support a couple of big hands playing simultaneously. After terms with Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, Davis has been freelancing in New York with ubiquitous success. As Freddie Hubbard points out in the kind of reverse use of language that jazzmen adopt when they praise a colleague, "Art is terrible! He should be heard by more and more people." Certainly Art's playing in this album will expand the number of listeners who recognize his extraordinary power and imagination.
Wayne Shorter has already demonstrated to a wide section of the jazz audience that he is in the foreground of bristlingly inventive young tenors. As complex and venturesome as his ideas become, he never loses the heated spontaneity and driving urgency that make him so emotionally direct a soloist. Bernard McKinney, originally from Detroit, has worked with Sonny Stitt, Slide Hampton, and James Moody, among others. He has become the master of a relatively rare instrument, the euphonium, which is generally listed as in the tuba family and resembles the baritone horn in pitch, shape, and range. Its larger bore, however, provides it with a mellower sound. Hubbard chose McKinney and his valved horn because he is beguiled by the sound McKinney gets from his instrument and also because the chordal requirements of the music for this date suggested the cleaner, swifter euphonium over the trombone.
The title of Freddie's first original, Arietis, is meant by Freddie to signify the singular of the zodiac sign of Aries under which he was born (April 7, 1938) While not a fervent believer in astrology, Freddie does place some small credence in that fanciful science. "If you're born under that sign," he says, "you're supposed to be a pioneer although I don't know yet if that applies to me You're also supposed to be changeable and curious " The basic pattern is 34 bars, and Freddie has voiced the melody so that at first it sounds as if it's in a different key from the tune's basic changes The theme is airily infectious and acts as a provocative jumping-off place for a deftly controlled, swift but balanced solo by Hubbard; and equally logical and yet unpredictable series of variations by Shorter; a demanding but unstrained statement by McKinney; and a resiliency lucid contribution by Tyner.
Freddie Hubbard first become intrigued by Weaver of Dreams a year ago when he worked a Jersey City job with Wild Bill Davis and heard a singer interpret it. "I've been playing it ever since," he says "and always wanted to include it in an album." Unlike many young hornmen who are fleet at up tempos but stammer on a ballad, Freddie indicates here a superb feeling for a ballad line and a beautifully rounded and deep, open tone. When the tempo quickens, it isn't lashed into a steaming rush that obliterates the lines of the tune but rather slides into an almost playful, still soft expansion of the song's possibilities.
Wayne Shorter's Marie Antoinette received its title because the line suggested to Shorter what might have been the light-hearted, leisure-time feeling of royalty before the ax fell. The occasion is a relaxed one for all and further emphasizes how well integrated this combo is stylistically since all the soloists complement each other with zest and ease. Note too the short but unmistakably individualized solo by Art Davis.
Freddie Hubbard called the opener on the second side Birdlike for reasons that will become immediately apparent. Aside from the Charlie Parker-like nature of the angular theme, the rhythmic feeling throughout is rooted in Bird's language. Hubbard's flashing solo again underlines the clarity and sureness of his articulation and the way he keeps his improvised lines always moving forward without the need to fill conceptual gaps with technical stunt-flying. Wayne Shorter digs into this blues with characteristic warmth ana daring, and constructs one of his most absorbing solos of the album. McKinney is burrily inventive; Tyner soars cleanly and cheerfully through the changes; Davis adds a brisk footnote; and the ensemble crisply concludes the tribute to Parker.
The final Crisis came from Freddie's desire to express in music some of the spiraling tension of all our lives under the growing shadow of the bomb. It's structured into two 16-bar units, an eight-bar bridge, and a final sixteen. "For the first twelve of each sixteen," Freddie odds, "we play softly over a gentle chordal base, and then for the last four, we explode." The solos are all undulating and thoughtful with Hubbard's being particularly evocative.
This album as a whole represents a further stage in the self-knowledge of this persistently searching young hornman who was born in Indianapolis, began to establish himself in New York in 1958, and has worked with an instructive variety of groups — Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson, Charlie Persip, Quincy Jones, among others. He's now a regular member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers but continues to explore multiple directions, having recorded with Ornette Coleman and spending practicing time with Sonny Rollins. Freddie will surely continue to develop because he's never satisfied with where he is; but he has already started to make a striking personal impact on the jazz scene, as this set confidently demonstrates.”
— NAT HENTOFF