One of the great jazz trumpeters of all time, Freddie Hubbard formed his sound out of the Clifford Brown/Lee Morgan tradition, and by the early '70s was immediately distinctive and the pacesetter in jazz. However, a string of blatantly commercial albums later in the decade damaged his reputation and, just when Hubbard, in the early '90s (with the deaths of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis), seemed perfectly suited for the role of veteran master, his chops started causing him serious troubles.
This well-recorded outing (which has been reissued on CD by Drive Archive) was trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's first worthwhile studio recording (with the exception of Super Blue) since the mid-'70s. Essentially a bebop date, Hubbard is teamed with a sextet comprised of altoist Richie Cole, trombonist Ashley Alexander, pianist George Cables, bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer John Dentz; altoist Med Flory sits in on "Byrdlike." Hubbard shows on such standards as "Shaw Nuff," "Star Eyes" and "Lover Man" that he could still play straightahead jazz with the best of them, Alexander is featured on "Stella by Starlight" and Cole is also in excellent form.
This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. One of Art Blakey's final recordings as a leader features two separate pianists (Benny Green and Mulgrew Miller) and two bassists (Leon Lee Dorsey and Lonnie Plaxico) taking part, along with the guest appearance of former Jazz Messenger Freddie Hubbard. Blakey was going deaf near the end of his life and sounds a tad tentative at times, while Hubbard's return may have been more to improve his chops (which had been in question after his experiments with fusion). The trumpeter seems rejuvenated by working with his former boss and his latest crop of Young Lions, who also include tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson.