JJ 08/63: Freddie Hubbard: The Artistry Of Freddie Hubbard

Sixty years ago, Jeremy French, hearing John Gilmore, thought there might be some advantage in the new 'freak-blowing saxophone technique'. First published in Jazz Journal August 1963

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In contrast to his undistinguished, if innocuous, showing on the Montgomery brothers’ record reviewed last month, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard here displays all the ferocity one has come to expect from trumpeters out of the Blakey school. His companions, presumably of his own choosing, share this attacking spirit, and the motivating force for this fine session was undoubtedly drummer Louis Hayes – himself a Blakey-styled pressure-cooker. Tommy Flanagan demonstrates his adaptability with some percussive playing while Art Davis, in his solo on ‘Bob’s Place’, comes up with the interest­ing idea of alternating bowed and plucked phrases.

Curtis Fuller, despite his personal ‘hooded’ tone, still invites comparison with J. J. Johnson – and shouldn’t, since he lacks the latter’s complete reliability. About John Gilmore, one must inevitably have mixed feelings, since he makes the tenor sound as if it were the last in­strument he really wanted to take up. However, although one of the new ‘double-reeded’ school, his tone is less unpalatable than that of Coltrane or con­temporary Rollins, and at times (notably in ‘7th Day’) one begins to feel that there might, after all, be some advantage, from a purely ‘narrative’ point of view, in the currently popular freak-blowing saxophone technique.

The three unfamil­iar titles are Hubbard originals which suit the group perfectly. ‘7th Day’ is a beauty – a modal piece during which, in the opening ensemble, a tremendous cli­max is reached. This, perhaps signifi­cantly, is the number on which Gilmore and Fuller sound most inspired, the former carrying us away on a Persian carpet during his exotic solo.

It only remains to say that Hubbard, at 24, holds promise of becoming an outstanding jazz trumpet player. Actually, artistry is the one quality he still lacks. He just about hangs on to a high Eb in “Summertime” by the skin of his teeth, and generally, throughout Side 2 (which is entirely in 3/4 time), is guilty of the over-repetitious use of semi­quaver ‘flurries’. Still, remembering how Miles and Dizzy were sounding at his age, his future certainly seems bright.

The music will delight all who have a propensity for ‘drumming’ bands like the Jazz Messengers. Personally I haven’t, yet I like this record very much indeed – so there you go.

Discography
Caravan; Bob’s Place; Happy Times (22 min) – Summertime; The 7th Day (21 min)
Freddie Hubbard (tpt); Curtis Fuller (tbn); John Gilmore (ten); Tommy Flanagan (p); Art Davis (bs); Louis Hayes (d). Recorded 2/7/62.
(HMV CSD 1498 12inLP 32s.)