Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CD of the Day - Freddie Hubbard: "Sky Live"

CD of the Day
Freddie Hubbard: "Sky Live" (Headless Hawk)

A fantastic set (71m17s) recorded live for radio broadcasting @ Ebbets Field in Denver, Colorado, on October 30, 1973, exactly a week after he had finished to record, on October 23, 1973, at Van Gelder Studio, his last studio session for CTI, "Keep Your Soul Together."

At the apex of his career, during the CTI heayday, Freddie Hubbard performs four extended versions of tunes he originally cut for Creed Taylor's label. He opens the concert with Linda & Paul McCartney's "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" (from the Grammy-winning album "First Light"), which is followed by Hubbard's own hard-bop theme "Spirits of Trane," a tribute to John Coltrane composed for "Keep Your Soul Together."

Then comes "Here's That Rainy Day," originally heard on "Straight Life" and often performed live by Hubbard as his flugelhorn pièce de résistance on the CTI All Stars concerts. Oddly, the 1953 Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke's ballad is wrongly identified on the CD data as Bix Beiderbecke's 1927 masterpiece "In A Mist," covered by Freddie Hubbard on the "Sky Dive" LP.

Btw, the closing tune is a 17-minute long version of the title track from "Sky Dive," announced by Hubbard as "a bossa nova featuring Kent Brinkley, who is dying to play a bass solo for you!" The other musicians are George Cables (Fender Rhodes, by then very influenced by Herbie Hancock, employing wah wah pedal and ring modulator), Ralph Penland (drums, whose playing is reminiscent of Lenny White's ferocity on "Red Clay") and Junior Cook (flute & tenor sax), all members of the trumpeter's touring band at that time, and the group he took to the studio to record "Keep Your Soul Together," refusing Creed Taylor's suggestion to use the famous studio cats that had appeared on his previous CTI albums.

Ebbets Field, named after the famed Brooklyn Dodgers ballpark, was a small club in the early to late 70's located on 1020 15th street in Denver, Colorado. It held 238 people which made for an intimate setting between performer and audience. The stage faced bleacher type seating which resembled seating at a sports venue. The walls, floor, and seating were all covered in black, orange, and brown shag carpert.

Most of the Ebbets shows (from rock to country to bluegrass plus a few jazz stars) were broadcasted on radio stations KDPI and KFML in Denver, supported By The Listen Up Company who also was responsible for the fine sound of those events. The club was paid by the bands' record labels (in Hubbard's case, CTI) to record the gigs. Some shows were broadcasted as they happened and others were broadcast later with the bands' permission.


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