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Published: 2009/06/22
by Brad Farberman

Without A Song: Live in Europe 1969 – Freddie Hubbard

Blue Note

Like only a handful of other jazz musicians Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock come to mind the bravura trumpeter Freddie Hubbard made important contributions to several different styles of jazz in a career that began in the late 1950s and lasted up until December 2008, when he left us for that great gig in the sky. From hard bop to the jazz avant-garde to fusion and beyond, it wasnt that Hubbard could do it all – he did.
Shortly after making his way to New York in 1958, Hubbard, originally from Indiana, found himself working in the bands of Sonny Rollins and Philly Joe Jones. By 1960, he had signed with Blue Note, and by 61 had joined one of the premier groups in jazz, Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers. But his mind was on other music, too, during this period: throughout the early 1960s, Hubbard appeared on essential free jazz recordings by Eric Dolphy (Out to Lunch), Ornette Coleman (Free Jazz), John Coltrane (Ascension) and others.
Then, around 1970, things took a turn for the groovy. With the funnnky Red Clay and other albums, mostly for Creed Taylors CTI label, Hubbard became one of the leading fusion artists of the 1970s. In just twenty years or so, the trumpeter had marked his territory in at least three wildly different jazz subgenres.
Without a Song, the first posthumous release from Hubbard, finds the leader in fine, boppish form (save for the Hubbard original Space Track, which gets pretty out there), leading his men (pianist Roland Hanna, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Louis Hayes) through primarily standards on a 1969 tour of Europe. Hubbard is on fire here: big sound, big ideas, great tone, in complete control of his instrument. And Hayes is no slouch behind the kit, propelling the band, and especially the leader, further and further into the well-charted unknown that is improvising on standard repertoire. Check out Hayes ferocious drum solo on Hub-Tones, and Hubbards unaccompanied solo towards the end of Body and Soul. Sweeping, searching, and majestic as anything, it stands as one of a great many testaments to a killer musician who, over the course of five decades, made a lot of beautiful music.

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