Monday, December 29, 2008

CD of the Day - "Freddie Hubbard: The Love Connection"

CD of the Day
Freddie Hubbard: "The Love Connection" (Sony) 2008

Produced by Freddie Hubbard & Claus Ogerman.
All Arrangements (Rhythm, Brass & Strings) by Claus Ogerman, who also conducted the orchestra in all tracks.
Executive Producer: Dr. George Butler
Featuring: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Chuck Domanico, Chester Thompson, Rubens Bassini, Jumma Santos, Joe Farrell, Al Jarreau, Chuck Findley, Oscar Brashear, Snooky Young, Steve Madaio, Tom Scott, Dick Hyde, Phil Ranelin, Phil Teele, Ernie Watts, Guy Lumia et al.

Ogerman considers his score for the closing track, "Lazy Afternoon," his personal favorite arrangement ever! Curiously, but not surprisingly, since he adores that haunting Jerome Moss melody, recently Ogerman recorded a new arrangement of the tune on his album with Danilo Perez, "Across The Crystal Sea," featuring Cassandra Wilson on an impeccable vocal performance. This track is nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist".
But all the tracks on "The Love Connection" are outstanding, starting by the exciting title tune on which Claus shows his underrated skills as brass arranger (skills that were overshadowed only because of his genius as a string orchestrator; or, like Freddie himself wrote in the back cover, as "the greatest string composer of the century.") There are great solos by Freddie on trumpet and Chick Corea on MiniMoog, propelled by Stanley Clarke on electric bass, Chester Thompson (then a member of Genesis) on drums, and the late Rubens Bassini on congas & tambourine.
"Brigitte", dedicated to his wife, pictured with him in the album cover, had been previously recorded on the CTI LP "Keep Your Soul Together". But this orchestral is far superior, also thanks to Corea's solo on the acoustic piano and the late Chuck Domanico's pulse on the acoustic bass.
Then comes another wondrous orchestration, featuring French horns and strings: Claus' own composition "This Dream". A dream made in heaven, indeed. Hubbard's tone on the flugelhorn is simply glorious and astonishing, making the highly difficult melodic line sound apparently very simple. Maybe his greatest flugel performance ever.
"Little Sunflower" got a lot of airplay in the USA jazz radio stations at the time of the original release in 1979, mostly due to the presence of Al Jarreau, then at the height of his popularity. Al added beautiful lyrics to one of Hubbard's most famous tunes, previously recorded as "Sunflower" on a marvelous self-titled LP recorded by Milt Jackson (with Hubbard as guest soloist) for CTI in 1972, arranged by Don Sebesky, who is also nominated for a Grammy in the same category on which Ogerman was nominated. Both Corea and Bassini shine once again, but Jarreau doesn't scats. And Hubbard sounds superb on the flugel one more time.
Now, if you really love music, order this Japanese CD reissue right now (it was never reissued domestically in the USA, unfortunately).

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