Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Box Set CD of the Month - "Freddie Hubbard: Keep Your Soul Together/Polar AC/Skagly"

Box Set CD of the Month
Freddie Hubbard: "Keep Your Soul Together/Polar AC/Skagly" (CTI/Columbia/BGO) 2014

This Beat Goes On release (catalog #1144, released April 2014 in the UK and May 2014 in the USA) features 3 entire LPs by my personal favorite trumpeter.
Remastered by Andrew Thompson @ Sound Performance (London, UK)
Liner notes by Mojo columnist Charles Waring.
Disc 1 (78:56 minutes)
Tracks 1 to 4 are the album "Keep Your Soul Together" – released 1973 on CTI Records as CTI 6036
Tracks 5 to 9 are the album "Polar AC" – released November 1975 on CTI Records as CTI 6056

Disc 2 (41:24 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 5 are the album "Skagly" – released 1980 on Columbia Records as FC 36418
A trio of 70's Freddie Hubbard – all packaged together in a 2-CD set by the UK label BGO (Beat Goes Public). First up is "Keep Your Soul Together" – Freddie at the peak of his 70's powers – and his fifth & last "official" CTI album, recorded in October 1973 after the ground-breaking "Red Clay," the wild "Straight Life," the Grammy-winning "First Light" and the elegant "Sky Dive." The record follows strongly in the mood that Freddie set under Creed Taylor's guidance, but with some differences: no strings, no brass section, and, last but not least, Hubbard was finally allowed to use his touring band, which consisted of George Cables (Fender Rhodes), Kent Brinkley (bass), the late Ralph Penland (drums), Juno Lewis (percussion), Aurell Ray (electric guitar) and Junior Cook (tenor sax) on four long, drawn out tracks done with lots of electricity in the rhythms, and a very cosmic approach to the solos, with Ron Carter overdubbing on a couple of tunes. The groove is funky, yet easy, featuring playing that's very open and very soulful. Titles include "Keep Your Soul Together", the hard-bop gem "Spirits Of Trane", "Destiny's Children", and the haunting ballad "Brigitte," dedicated to Freddie's wife and later re-recorded on "The Love Connection" with a lush Claus Ogerman score.
"Polar AC" is warm and wonderful work from Freddie Hubbard – a killer of a previously unreleased out-takes selection that Creed Taylor decided to release in 1975, after the trumpeter had already left CTI. The selection got a bit more of a human heart than some of the more cosmic sessions Freddie cut at the time – a bit more contemplative and introspective, but no less open-minded and electrically charged. The assortment of players is all top-shelf – with Billy Cobham, Airto, Lenny White, Jack DeJohnette, George Cables, Hubert Laws, and George Benson all backing Freddie up on the set – and titles include great takes on two Bob James-arranged Philly hymns by Thom Bell & Linda Creed: "People Make the World Go Round" (that Freddie had recorded as a sideman for Milt Jackson's "Sunflower," but this time features Airto's percussion combined with Lenny White's muscular broken-beats) and "Betcha By Golly Wow" (made a hit by The Stylistics, with Airto on drums) plus Nat Adderley's "Naturally" (from the "Sky Dive" sessions, but with Keith Jarrett's piano deleted from the mix due to contractual reasons; when the complete "Sky Dive" was reissued on CD for the first time in the USA, Jarrett's piano was restored to the track) and "Son of Sky Dive", with Junior Cook shining on the tenor sax. Cedar Walton's "Polar AC" (aka "Fantasy In D"), originally arranged by Don Sebesky for the "First Light" sessions, received a lot of airplay at that time.
"Skagly" (recorded for Columbia in December 1979, originally released in 1980 and reissued for the first time on CD by Wounded Bird in 2009) has a title that reads like a typo, but this low-budget album's a great set of smooth fusion from Freddie Hubbard; self-produced, and almost a summation of all the styles he'd mastered in the 70's. The session's never too over the top or too ambitious – just features Freddie working with a hip group in a laidback setting – blowing lean and mellow lines that almost take him back to his best CTI funk. The group features Billy Childs on keyboards, Larry Klein on bass, Art Pepper's long time associate Carl Burnett on drums, Hadley Caliman on tenor sax & flute, plus special guest work by George Duke (overdubbing Hohner clavinet on the title track to add a special spice), Philip Ranelin (trombone), Jeff Baxter (electric guitar) and Brazilian percussion hero Paulinho Da Costa. Titles include two Hubbard's originals ("Skagly" and "Happiness Is Now"), Child's "Rustic Celebration" and my personal favorite track, Klein's "Cascais". A tender rendition of Michel Legrand's famous ballad "The Summer Knows," from the "Summer of '42" movie soundtrack, completes the repertoire.

No comments: