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THE DOORMAN'S DIARY

May 2014

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May 24 A slight chill in the air as I enter the jazz club. It is near empty, but the bartender is ready for anything. I straighten my vintage tie and count my wedge to make sure I have the starter amount for my doorman night. With the regular bassist back on stage, the quint is into a well-oiled groove. It is impossible for them to sound better. They're playing Freddie Hubbard “Little Sunflower" and the normally dour drummer is actually smiling. It's a frightening sight so I back closer to the door just in case his apparent ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life (40th Anniversary Edition)

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CTI Records reissued trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's November 1970 date, Straight Life, in 2011. As with some of the other reissues in this series (see John Kelman's in-depth discussion of some of the more important of these), its availability on compact disc has been spotty. Straight Life is a good--if not great--record, and it's good to have it back in circulation.The album is pretty simple. Two numbers--the relatively fast title track and Weldon Irvine's slower-grooving “Mr. Clean"--are long modal-funk performances that provide opportunities for extended solos. A slightly incongruous flugelhorn/guitar duet on the standard “Here's That Rainy Day" closes ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freddie Hubbard: Pinnacle

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Blistering. That is almost the only way to describe a solo by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Even from the beginning with his early recordings of the late 1950s, Hubbard sported a tone and attack akin to a chemical burn. He always had the classic posture of the trumpet player. Not the misanthropic one adopted by Miles Davis, bent full over, blowing toward the ground. Hubbard leaned back to an almost impossible angle, tucked in his chin and folded his elbows in close to his sides, with sweat popping out over his entire face. When Hubbard blew, you always knew he was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freddie Hubbard: Pinnacle

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Trumpet great Freddie Hubbard, who died in 2008 at age 70, was at his peak in 1980 when Pinnacle was taped. He had recorded with greats, from Wes Montgomery and Art Blakey to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Oscar Peterson, and led many groups of his own. In his prime, from the sixties through the early nineties, critics acknowledged that he could play faster. and with more chops, than most anyone. His best playing days ended in 1992, however, when his lip became infected and never fully healed. According to a 1995 Downbeat article, because of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freddie Hubbard: Pinnacle

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Pinnacle is a testament to the trumpet prowess of the one and only Freddie Hubbard, but it's also a salute to the San Francisco-based jazz club that played host to Hubbard on numerous occasions. Todd Barkan's Keystone Korner was ground zero for some of the best live jazz on the West Coast during its eleven-year lifespan, and this set of music, along with Jaki Byard's Sunshine Of My Soul: Live At The Keystone Korner (HighNote, 2007), Mary Lou Williams Live At The Keystone Korner (HighNote, 2002), and several other top-notch recordings, attest to that fact. While Blue ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Freddie Hubbard: Pinnacle - Live and Unreleased from Keystone Korner

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Freddie HubbardPinnacle: Live and Unreleased from Keystone KornerResonance Records2011 As album titles go, Pinnacle is closer to category than hyperbole. These seven previously unreleased tracks feature trumpeter and flugelhornist Freddie Hubbard at the apex of his abilities, recorded live at San Francisco's Keystone Korner. Some impressive West Coast talent joins the action, but Hubbard is the main attraction, and he never disappoints. The medium tempo “Blues for Duane" illustrates the full range of Hubbard's technical and expressive powers. He enters softly but authoritatively, practically stepping over pianist Billy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life

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On the surface, Freddie Hubbard's Straight Life doesn't seem like a record that should have ever found much success on the CTI label. This record lacks any grandiose arrangements or classical-jazz crossovers, two of the three tracks are far too long to garner much airplay, and those same two tracks--"Straight Life" and “Mr. Clean"--are far rawer and more groove-oriented than standard CTI-issue material. That the programming is so odd--with a guitar and flugelhorn ballad following thirty minutes of soul-funk jamming--also adds to the potential for failure, but this was Freddie Hubbard in the early '70s, failure simply never entered into ...



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