Freddie Hubbard – Hub Cap – Blue Note /Analogue Productions

by | Aug 14, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Freddie Hubbard – Hub Cap – Blue Note St-84073 /Analogue Productions CBNJ 84073 SA – SACD Stereo, 51:47 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****½:

(Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; Jimmy Heath, tenor sax; Cedar Walton, piano; Larry Ridley, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)

Though only 23 years old at the time of his third Blue Note release, Hub Cap, Freddie Hubbard was already recognized as a force to be reckoned with by even Miles Davis. Davis felt that Freddie had the full arsenal of tools to be a shining light at such a young age. Miles was twelve years senior to Freddie at the time.

Hubbard had the brashness of his Blue Note partner, Lee Morgan, and the warmth and tone on ballads of Clifford Brown. Basically, by the end of the 1960s, Hubbard was on the way to greatness that lasted at least another two decades before health issues dimmed his star later in his career.

Hearing Hubbard in full SACD brilliance provided by the ace crew at Analogue Productions, led by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman is a real treat.

Freddie’s blistering runs, Jimmy Heath’s boppish tenor lines, and the burnished trombone tone of Julian Priester all jump out of your speakers. Larry Ridley’s rock solid accompaniment on bass, and hard bop drummer extraordinaire, Philly Joe Jones, combine with Cedar Walton to make a super-star rhythm section.

The title track is a burner, while “Cry Me Not” has the horns ensemble playing setting a dreamy mood. Cries of melancholy pour out from Hubbard and Heath. Freddie soon goes into a upper register that few trumpeters of the period besides Lee Morgan could match. “Luana” gives Philly Joe’s cymbals the task of setting an Afro/ Caribbean beat that Hubbard picks up on in honor of his niece. Heath’s solo shows a Coltrane influence, appropriate at the time.

“Osie Mae” has Cedar Walton opening with a vamp that the horns take on. Its funky tone is contagious. Freddie then steps up and shows his swagger that continued throughout his Blue Note years. We are so lucky to have both Jimmy Heath and Julian Priester on the scene (likewise Cedar), and they each have major statements on this track. Priester’s tone brings to mind the smoothness and clarity of Jay Jay Johnson. Walton was also a young man at the time (a mere 27, and still going strong 50 years later) and shows he had already mastered his craft.

“Plexus,” one of Walton’s better known compositions, follows and is so good that an alternate take is included later. Philly Joe matches Hubbard’s power with a bombastic drum solo. This track is worth the price of admission, just to hear these masters push each other to new heights.

“Earmon Jr” written for Freddie’s brother, then a pianist in their home town—Indianapolis—is a free blowing hard bop winner, and all three horns get their opportunity to shine.

Only 23, and already a feather in his chapeau. Hub Cap is a gas, prime Blue Note material and in exemplary SACD acoustics. Forget the downtown steak dinner. Donate your CD issue of this session. Pony up the money for Hub Cap. Well worth the SACD extra expense…

TrackList: Hub Cap, Cry Me Not, Luana, Osie Mae, Plexus, Earmon Jr., Plexus (alt take)

— Jeff Krow

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