Thursday, August 6, 2009

CD of the Day - "Freddie Hubbard: Bundle of Joy"

CD of the Day
Freddie Hubbard: "Bundle of Joy" (Wounded Bird) 2009

First-ever CD reissue of Hubbard's "Bundle of Joy" album for Columbia, now reissued by the Wounded Bird label through a deal with Sony Music. It would be unfair to compare it to any of FH's superb CTI dates like "Red Clay," "First Light" and "Sky Dive". So, just try to enjoy it with no prejudice.
I love "Bundle of Joy" - produced, arranged & conducted by Bert DeCoteaux - for several reasons, including a personal one. The first time I drove in a LA freeway, its title track, a delightful and very hip tune composed by Hubbard, was playing on the radio. Really an unforgettable sensation.
But the highlight is a haunting version of "Portrait of Jenny," on which the leader's impeccable flugelhorn is backed only by Dorothy Ashby (harp) and David Garfield (celeste). Beyond words.
The album also includes the soul-ballad "I Don't Wanna Lose You" (by Thom Bell & Linda Creed, my favorite composers of the "Sound of Philadelphia" era, having written such songs as "People Make The World Go Round" and "Betcha By Golly Wow," both previously recorded by Hubbard during his CTI days) and two more FH originals: "Tucson Stomp" (tenor sax solo by the underrated Azar Lawrence) and "Rahsann" (tenor sax solo by Ernie Watts). The large cast of musicians includes Brazilian percussion master Paulinho da Costa on congas & timbales, David T. Walker & Jay Graydon on guitars, Carlos Vega & Ed Green on drums, George Bohanon (miscredited Bohannon on the CD booklet) & Garnett Brown (mispelled Garnet) on trombones.
"Rainy Day Song," including a nice Fender Rhodes solo by keyboardist Dave Garfield, and "From Now On" are two very pleasant "jazz-disco" moments.
So, have fun and daaaaaaaaaance!!!
Doug Payne's insightful comments, borrowed from his Sound Insights blog, follow:

Bundle of Joy (1977): I remember this album as if it was released yesterday. I always had it, yet I never listened to it. But it's a strangely satisfying record when given half a chance. As a Freddie Hubbard album, it ranks among the least satisfying he ever did. Still, there is much to recommend the album for those willing to sit through - and enjoy - it. Oddly, Bert DeCoteaux was the arranger here. At the time, I thought he was a softie, like somebody who would arrange Vicki Lawrence albums or something. But, oddly enough, he was a soul guy who helmed soulful projects by Albert Ayler (!), Marlene Shaw, The Main Ingredient, B.B. King and Ramsey Lewis. So you know what they were going for.
There's a beautiful duet here, "Portrait of Jenny," that Hubbard plays most remarkably with the great, underrated harpist Dorothy Ashby. Even I am surprised how engagingly Hubbard and company covered Bunny Sigler's soulful, semi-disco hit "From Now On" (also covered by Lou Rawls and Linda Clifford). Hubbard really seems to respond to the groove, which ramps up especially nicely during DeCoteaux's nicely constructed bridge.
But the best performances to be heard here, as expected, are the Hubbard pieces "Tucson Stomp" and, most especially, "Rahsann" (which, despite the spelling error, I presume, was intended as a dedication to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who died shortly before this recording and who recorded several Quincy Jones sessions with Hubbard). Like so many like-minded albums of the period, Bundle of Joy, is "over arranged" to a fault and the type of album that jazz lovers revile and vilify. Soloists other than Hubbard are keyboardist David Garfield (on the two somewhat pretty pieces he contributes to the album), Ernie Watts ("Rahsann"), David T. Walker ("Bundle of Joy") and Azar Lawrence ("Tucson Stomp"). Worth a listen, if only to hear what jazz guys had to do in the late 1970s to sell records. Strangely, records like this really didn't sell.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ive decided that some of the best albums are from this mid 70 era

Wish You Were Here
Hotel California
Bob James 4
Fleetwood Mac(2)
Heavy Weather

And this album with Portrait Of Jenny

One tough list!