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Freddie Hubbard: Stardust & Clubhouse

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John Coltrane
Stardust (RVG Edition)
Prestige-Concord
2007


Dexter Gordon
Clubhouse
Blue Note
2008




Freddie Hubbard is part of the most concentrated group of trumpet talents in jazz history, born on Apr. 7th, 1938, just five days after Booker Little and three months before Lee Morgan. His brassy sound, confident attack and fluid lines mark a host of the finest recordings of the '60s, including John Coltrane's Olé, Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth, Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch and numerous Art Blakey sessions. Hubbard's skill in running through harmonically complex lines marked him as one of the very few trumpeters who could share a bandstand with Coltrane and Dolphy.

Hubbard was just 20 for his second recording on one of the sessions that make up Coltrane's Stardust. Drawn from two 1958 sessions, Stardust first appeared as an LP in 1963, one in a chain of Prestige Coltrane releases that would shadow his new Impulse recordings. Stardust emphasizes Coltrane's brilliance as a balladeer, with the gorgeous sound, penetrating intonation and illuminated phrasing already in place. The bands are mostly standard quintets—the Miles Davis Quintet to be precise with the trumpet chair assumed by others—but the theme statements belong to Coltrane alone, even on the up-tempo bounce of "Love Thy Neighbor." Given the consummate art of Coltrane in the midst of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and either Art Taylor or Jimmy Cobb on drums, the trumpeters are almost incidental, though Wilbur Harden has a nice turn on the title tune. Hubbard's brief outing on "Then I'll Be Tired of You," his only appearance here, is tentative at best and marred by muffed notes, though his sound is clearly coming into place. The material here is available complete in the Prestige Coltrane sets: the 16-disc The Prestige Recordings or the six-CD Fearless Leader. If you're sufficiently interested in Coltrane to want this, the complete sessions are recommended.

Dexter Gordon's Clubhouse, from 1965, is aptly named, suggesting the characteristic camaraderie of the Blue Note sessions and the small coterie of musicians on which they drew. Here the band includes Blue Note regulars Hubbard and drummer Billy Higgins with pianist Barry Harris and bassist Bob Cranshaw (Ben Tucker replaces him on his own "Devilette") making relatively rare appearances on the label. Gordon is somehow both magisterial and romantic on the ballads—"I'm a Fool to Want You" and "Lady Iris B."—while the medium tempo originals possess bop, blues and gospel inflections, all impetus for Gordon's swaggering lines and ironic quotations. Hubbard is here a model of confidence, matching Gordon on the ballads with a broad, lustrous sound and adding an intensity that contrasts effectively with the comfortable Gordon, breaking up his explosive lines with irregular phrases and sudden shafts of sound. A typically solid Blue Note hard bop session, Clubhouse doesn't provide the blowing room to show Gordon at his most inventive, or the group intensity to lift Hubbard to his full potential, but it is consistent work by masters engaged in a common pursuit.


Tracks and Personnel

Stardust (RVG Edition)

Tracks: Stardust; Time After Time; Love Thy Neighbor; Then I'll Be Tired Of You.

Personnel: John Coltrane: sax; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb: drums; Freddie Hubbard, Wilbur Harden: trumpet;

Clubhouse

Tracks: Hanky Panky; I'm A Fool To Want You; Devilette; Clubhouse; Lay Iris B.; Jodi.

Personnel: Dexter Gordon: sax; Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; Barry Harris: piano; Bob Cranshaw, Ben Tucker: bass; Billy Higgins: drums

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