Here's Freddie Hubbard the way he was meant to be heard muscular, exciting, in good form and live on stage with outstanding guests and a top-notch band. Keystone Bop: Vol 2 Friday / Saturday is the second installation from a weekend series of sets recorded November 27-29, 1981, at Todd Barkan's long-gone Keystone Korner in San Francisco. The first issue of this great music came out last year on Prestige as Keystone Bop: Sunday Night. Most of the music from these two Prestige CDs was originally issued on vinyl in the mid 1980s by Fantasy as Keystone Bop , Freddie Hubbard Classics and A Little Night Music.
Hubbard fronts an excellent group here with his then-current working group (Billy Childs on piano, Larry Klien on bass and Steve Houghton on drums) and prominently features San Francisco residents / guests Joe Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson at their very, very best. Keystone Bop: Vol 2 also adds the formerly unreleased "Round Midnight," a sterling showcase for Henderson, to the stew.
The trumpeter, having released a slew of forgettable fusion records on Columbia by 1981, blew the ears off listeners who thought he'd lost that unique ability of his with performances like this. Since then, Hubbard's edge has deteriorated because of physical (not commercial) problems although 1991's MusicMasters release Live at Fat Tuesdays often gets as good as this. Hubbard delivers long, exciting takes of superior blowing tunes like "One of Another Kind," "Red Clay" and "First Light." Not one is less than 17 minutes! Each of the talented participants gets to strut his stuff - and they clearly like making music with one another - and the audience undoubtedly gets its money's worth. You will too. Great stuff!