Wednesday, September 1, 2021

More Impulse! - The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“If someone were to ask you how rising young jazzmen in New York were playing on a good get-together in 1962, this album would provide a succinct answer.”

- Dan Morgenstern

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles has been working its way through the early issues by Impulse Records, a label that was in existence from 1961 - 1969 and owes a great deal of its success to producers Creed Taylor and Bob Thiele along with a marvelous production, marketing and administrative staff.

Of course, as Ashley Kahn states in the title of his book on the label - The House That Trane Built -  Impulse came to prominence largely due to the recordings of iconic tenor saxophonist John Coltrane.

But other artists were also responsible for Impulse’s commercial success, among them trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. 

Given his initial and ultimately long term association with Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff’s at Blue Note, the 1963 release of The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard came as a bit of surprise.

But it was always wonderful to have more of Freddie’s music whatever the label for as Richard Cook and Brian Morton assets in their Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.:

“Freddie Hubhard 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.”

And here’s Ashley Kahn’s annotations about The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard from his book about Impulse Records.

Freddie Hubbard / The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard

Impulse A(S) 27

DATE RECORDED: July 2, 1962 


PRODUCER: Bob Thiele


Freddie Hubbard, trumpet

Curtis Fuller, trombone

John Gilmore, tenor sax

Tommy Flanagan, piano

Art Davis, bass

Louis Hayes, drums.

For trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, his Impulse debut still marks a personal breakthrough: his first fully composed and arranged album, an accomplishment that earned it its title.

[Bob Thiele] called it The Artistry because of the writing, I would say that that was a pivotal time in my career because I was writing and a lot of times you write music but it sounds like someone else's work. I had done some arrangements on my Blue Note [albums]— Ready for Freddie, Hub-Tones. I had help from [tenor saxophonist] Tina Brooks on the Blue Note stuff, but on The Artistry I felt as though these arrangements really sounded like me."

Of his originals, Hubbard recalls that one track might seem to have referred to the album's producer but didn't—"Bob [of 'Bob's Place'] was a boy I knew in Brooklyn" — while another carried a personal resonance." 'The 7th Day' is very meaningful — a holy day for me. I did a lot of research on that: I keep it holy. It's a rhythmic thing with the congas, and I wrote some pretty heavy arrangements for that small-group style."

The other memorable aspect of the album for Hubbard was his complete choice of sidemen, combining the familiar and the unexpected. "I felt as though I had the guys that I finally wanted. I had [drummer] Louis Hayes, who's my man; I had [pianist] Tommy Flanagan, and I had [tenor saxophonist] John Gilmore.

"Louis and I were living together in Brooklyn for about eleven years. He did some of his best playing on [The Artistry]. Tommy Flanagan? Whew. Man, he's got the touch at piano. I was happy. [Bassist] Art Davis surprised me too, man. He's got a good sound on records and made some good records with Max [Roach]."

If one choice is a sore thumb standout, it would be Gilmore, who is featured throughout the album. Better known as an avant-gardist than a hard-bopper like the others on the session, he had come to prominence playing with the bandleader and avant-garde pioneer Sun Ra. Hubbard explains that his inclination to use Gilmore was confirmed by another saxophonist's taste.

"Coltrane loved him. I used to go from Indianapolis to Chicago every Sunday, [where] I heard John Gilmore and Sun Ra. Have you ever met Sun Ra? I used to go over to his house. He had a harem of guys — like a commune, more or less. He took care of them. I don't know if he made any money, but he taught them a lot of music. A lot of people wanted John Gilmore, you know, but he would not leave. His sound and his notes made him fit the part with [Sun Ra].

"On this session? Well he didn't play like Wayne Shorter or Joe Henderson, but he played the type of sound that I heard for the album. When he played that solo on 'Caravan,' I said, 'Man, what is this?' [Chuckles.]... It was kind of a Coltrane sound, and I liked that because he didn't play like anybody else. When I wrote those arrangements, I didn't really know what they were going to sound like. But I had an idea that by getting Art and Louis and Tommy and John that they would, some kind of way, gel. See, if you get certain combinations of guys, they can get a sound."

Though The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard will always be associated with a painful memory for the trumpeter ("I was going through some changes then, man. I was getting ready to break up with my wife. I had a son that I had to leave"), he admits to a measure of satisfaction with it. "I've listened to that one a lot over the years," he says, "I did some of my best playing on that."

Last, but not least, are these original liner notes from The Artistry of Freddie Hubbard [Impulse! A (S) 27] by Dan Morgenstern:

“In a recent interview in Playboy, Miles Davis was asked about trumpet players. Among the dozen names Miles mentioned (having- set up his criteria as "does the man project, and does he have ideas") were such as Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry, Bobby Hackett, Kenny Dorham and 24-year-old Freddie Hubbard. Miles made a point of slating that, unlike jazz critics and pollsters, he wasn't rating or comparing artists but talking about men with individual ideas and styles. Freddie Hubbard, though his musical ancestors clearly include Miles himself and the late Clifford Brown, is a young player with a mind, and a style of his own.

Indianapolis-born, Hubbard had behind him work with the groups of Slide Hampton, Max Roach and J .J. Johnson prior to embarking upon his association with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. His bright, bold and unashamedly brassy trumpet sound has done much to make the current edition of that durable ensemble one of the best. Hubbard can get around on his horn, but he has not sacrificed range for speed or sound for ingenuity. His ability to produce a good tone in all registers is one of the things that make him stand out from the flock, as is his way with long notes. In an era of jazz dominated by saxophonists, Hubbard's command of his horn is almost a throwback to the trumpet reigned '3Os.

But only in terms of instrumental approach could this be said about Freddie Hubbard. His musical ideas are definitively of today. He is admittedly drawn to the "Coltrane conception" (hear him on The Seventh Day), he has a gift for conceiving harmonically challenging original lines, and he is fond of the "freedom from 4/4" which the "new thing" seems to strive for. His sound, execution and control enhances these pursuits — no matter how "advanced" a style of playing may become, it never moves to the stage where instrumental proficiency becomes a disadvantage.

On this, his first album for Impulse under his own name, Freddie Hubbard has surrounded himself with first-rate young talent. The only man present who is not already well-established on the recording scene is tenorist John Gilmore, who here emerges as a solid supporter of the post-be bop approach to time and space. With a full, dark tone which suits his ideas, he will surely be heard from again.”

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