Blue Note's The Artist Selects series offers a valuable insight into some of the jazz greats who recorded for the label by having the musicians themselves "select and sequence songs to be reissued on a single disc. In the case of Freddie Hubbard, the choices are especially interesting because they are culled from a particularly diverse and voluminous discography, with only one selection (Kenny Dorham's "Karioka ) replicating the previously assembled Jazz Profiles compilation. The remaining eight numbers, all originals by the trumpeter, document the early work of one of jazz's finest composers.
Hubbard begins the disc with three tracks covering his years with the great edition of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton and Reggie Workman. He opens with "The Core, one of the most intensely swinging pieces ever recorded by the band, and continues with "Crisis, a popular melody that still enjoys a certain currency in the jazz canon. Hubbard candidly admits in his liner notes that "Up Jumped Spring (arguably his most popular tune) is not the type of melody he would usually write, but "everybody seemed to like it.
Two lesser-known gems from Hub Tones, the Eastern-tinged "Prophet Jennings and the beautiful ballad "Lament For Booker follow. Featuring James Spaulding's airy flute and Herbie Hancock at the piano, the compositions reveal Hubbard's own personal sense of sophisticated open harmonies. "Breaking Point, the title track from the album of the same name, is an exciting piece that smashes the hard bop mold completely by alternating free-blown avant-garde structures with a melodic calypso section. Dorham's "Karioka, from Hubbard's Blue Note debut, Goin' Up, is pure swing with Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones cooking from start to finish.
"The Melting Pot, from Blue Spirits, pairs Hubbard with Joe Henderson and presages some of his more modern work with the saxophonist. The concluding "Birdlike, a frequently covered classic by Hubbard, features the trumpeter with Shorter and Bernard McKinney in the front line and the Coltrane rhythm section of Tyner, Art Davis and Elvin Jones. Hubbard would continue contributing great songs to the jazz repertory, but these early examples of his considerable compositional capabilities remain some of his best.
The Core; Crisis; Up Jumped Spring; Prophet Jennings; Lament for Booker; Breaking Point;
Karioka; The Melting Pot; Birdlike.
Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; James Spaulding: flute, alto saxophone; Hosea Taylor: alto
saxophone; Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone;
Curtis Fuller: trombone; Bernard McKinney: euphonium;
Herbie Hancock, Ronnie Mathews, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton: piano;
Paul Chambers, Art Davis, Eddie Khan, Reggie Workman: bass; Art Blakey, Joe Chambers,
Clifford Jarvis, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones: drums.
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