The Hub of Hubbard- prime time Freddie…

Freddie Hubbard, trumpet – The Hub of Hubbard – MPS 0210991MSW (vinyl) 1969 ****:

(Freddie Hubbard – trumpet; Eddie Daniels – tenor sax; Roland Hanna – piano; Richard Davis – bass; Louis Hayes – drums)

Freddie Hubbard’s quintet was touring Europe in the winter of 1969 when Joachim Berendt, the owner of MPS Music, based out of West Germany, enticed the band to record at the label’s studio on a day off from the tour. Berendt was known to have a “hands-off” approach when recording American jazz icons. (Oscar Peterson found MPS to be a receptive label and recorded often at the MPS Studio in Villingen in the idyllic Black Forest area).

On Dec. 9, 1969, the quintet laid down four extended tracks – three standards, and a 12-bar blues written by Freddie to honor his son, Duane. The rhythm section consisted of veterans: Roland Hanna, Richard Davis, and Louis Hayes, while the tenor sax chair was held by the (then) young Eddie Daniels, who has gone on to fame more as a clarinetist. Time on the road had sharpened the quintet’s cohesion and a single day was more than enough to cut an album.

Over four decades later in fine remastered sound on 180 gm vinyl, this band cooks. Freddie was in fine form at the peak of his powers in 1969. He could blow with the best of trumpeters at that time, both blisteringly hot with rapid-fire choruses, and with a burnished lyrical warmness on ballads. This was Eddie Daniel’s first recording with Freddie and he acquits himself well as a foil for Hubbard.

The three standards are handled with ease, yet highlight the quintet’s strengths. “Without a Song” has a light swinging tone. Richard Davis’ bass is upfront on the right speaker with full resonance. Hubbard’s lines are fluid and he trades off with Daniels in a call and response section. Roland Hanna has several bop choruses, and Davis provides effective walking-bass comping.

Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” is turned inside out, like bop on steroids. It is done very uptempo with staccato lines and Freddie is blazing hot. On “Blues for Duane” Freddie honors his son on Harmon mute with a 12 bar blues. Richard Davis gets a strong feature role here. “The Things We Did Last Summer” closes out the session with Hubbard ruminating on the ballad melody softly “tonguing” the mouthpiece, and Roland Hanna plucks strings inside the piano. Fans of Freddie Hubbard in his prime will find much to like on this audiophile-quality LP reissue.


Side 1: Without a Song, Just One of Those Things
Side 2: Blues for Duane, The Things We Did Last Summer

—Jeff Krow