Freddie Hubbard and his New Jazz Composers Octet dig into the mainstream and come up with a winner. It's a team effort. Most of the selections are arranged by trumpeter David Weiss to reflect group interaction and a robust ensemble sound. Anchored by baritone saxophone and bass, the band aims for a dramatic flair as each melody is interpreted with deliberation. Seven of the eight selections are Hubbard's originals. "Red Clay" has mellowed with age, but its new "team" sound reflects the familiar melody and draws immediate recognition. Hubbard steps forward with a brief flugelhorn solo that retains his forceful style while emphatically rounding off the edges. Throughout the program, key solos appear from flugelhorn, saxophones and piano.
"Blue Spirits" lopes in three and captures the mood. Hubbard, Craig Handy and Xavier Davis take turns in the solo spotlight, while the arrangement sparkles with its full band sound. "Blues for Miles" swings with a light New Orleans shuffle rhythm and showcases Hubbard's brightest solo of the program. He's strong and fluid for this tribute. The ensemble's swinging arrangement of Hubbard's homage to Miles Davis makes it another winner. "Dizzy's Connotations" rides a Latin wave alongside Hubbard's playful high jinks. "True Colors" finds the ensemble driving with a forceful pattern that reflects jazz's dramatic nature. For this one, trumpeter David Weiss blends his brassy timbre with the other members in a fiery display. Hubbard, 63, has opted to share his veteran experience with the younger members of his band. The team-driven result is a feather in the cap of straight-ahead jazz and a significant candidate for this year's top ten list.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.