Recording Date: Aug 21, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard really came into his own during this Blue Note session. He is matched with quite an all-star group (tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Art Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones in addition to Bernard McKinney on euphonium), introduces two of his finest compositions ("Birdlike" and "Crisis"), and is quite lyrical on his ballad feature, "Weaver of Dreams." Hubbard's sidemen all play up to par and this memorable session is highly recommended; it's one of the trumpeter's most rewarding Blue Note albums.
All Music Guide
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The careers of most 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 became 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 latter'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."
Ready For Freddie
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 com-mandingly 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 bands 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 the 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 suppose 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; an equally logical and yet unpredictable series of variations by Shorter; a demanding but unstrained statement by McKinney; and a resiliently lucid contribution by Tyner.
Freddie Hubbard first became 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 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 "Bird-like" 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 and 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 adds, "we play softly over a gentle chordal base, and then for the last four, we explode." The solos are all undulatingly thoughtful with Hubbard's being particularly evocative.
This album as a whole represents a further stage in the self-knowledge of his 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, JJ. 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.