Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vinyl Reissue of the Month - "Freddie Hubbard: First Light"

Vinyl Reissue of the Month (Numbered limited edition of 2000 copies)
Freddie Hubbard: "First Light" (CTI) 1971/2014

Rating: ***** (musical performance & remastering)

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded & Mixed by Rudy Van Gelder
Vinyl Remastering by Bernie Grundman
Cover Photo: Pete Turner
Liner Photo: Dean Brown
Album Design: Bob Ciano

Arranged & Conducted by Don Sebesky
Featuring: Freddie Hubbard (flugelhorn & trumpet), Richard Wyands (electric piano), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Airto Moreira (percussion), Phil Kraus (vibes, bells & percussion), George Benson (electric guitar), Hubert Laws (flute), David Nadien (concertmaster).

Freddie Hubbard's "First Light" -- recorded on September 14 & 16, 1971, released in January 1972 and that received a Grammy Award in 1973 as "Best Jazz Album of The Year" -- remains my personal favorite among the many great albums recorded by my personal favorite trumpet player.

It was Hubbrad's third album for CTI, following the no less amazing "Red Clay" and "Straight Life," but the first one to put him in a large orchestral setting, conceived by Creed Taylor and genius arranger Don Sebesky. "The result is a masterpiece of textured sound, gorgeously far-flung charts, sweet, tight grooves, a subtle mystic feel, and some of Hubbard's most exciting playing ever," jazz historian Thom Jurek wrote on All Music Guide.

This awesome 180g audiophile-grade vinyl 33rpm LP reissue, remastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed at Pallas for ORG Music, sounds as good as Van Gelder's original LP release. It also preserves the original gatefold cover format, designed by CTI's art director at that time, my dear friend Bob Ciano. "Red Clay" had been previously reissued by ORG as a 2-LP set at 45pm speed (more details here:

But there's a big mistake in the front cover stamp (click on the image to enlarge), though: Herbie Hancock didn't take part of the "First Light" sessions, he doesn't plays a single note in the entire album. The only keyboardist is the extremely underrated Richard Wyands (that plays Fender Rhodes throughout the LP and has a single solo spot on the last track, Bernstein's sublime "Lonely Town"), a pianist who had previously recorded as a sideman for CTI on Kenny Burrell's "God Bless The Child."

On this fabulous pressing, mastered from the original tapes with utmost care, the sonic intricacies of the knotty architecture comes to fore. The results are ravishing, each note memorable.

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