Monday, April 07, 2014

Hub Is In the Air

I have about four million hours of work today to do, but before I descend into that I wanna pop this one up real quick. This titan of the trumpet passed in 2008 at the age of 70, but April 7th is his birthday so I can't let it go without sharing this gem.
There are so many seminal jazz artists born on 4/7 that it was almost impossible to pick one: Billie Holiday (1915 -- I'll get to her next year on #100, trust me), drum legend Pete LaRoca (1938), pioneering bandleader Mongo Santamaria (1922), saxophonist Bob Berg (1951), and piano man Alexander von Schlippenbach (also 1938... that's three heavyweights born all on the same exact day!) each celebrate birthdays today. As does sitar superstar Ravi Shankar, who'd have been 94.
I decided on Freddie... WTF? He's only arguably one of the top 5 on his instrument in jazz history. Wait'll you hear him team up with Hadley Caliman (a criminally underrated reeds/winds maestro) and vocalist extraordinaire Leon Thomas for this mesmerizing couple of sets from their 1979 tour of Europe. This one is a pre-FM reel -- the sound once again entirely indistinguishable from an actual official live recording -- from the legendary jazz spot Onkel Po's in Hamburg.
What I dig most about this concert is the consistency of the playing across all the different styles of music. I was also struck by the singing, given that Leon Thomas often annoys me when he focuses too much on just the yodeling thing to the detriment of his other vocal capabilities. No such problem here... in fact, I might nominate this as my favorite recorded evidence of LT, who integrates all his tools into a scat/sing/yodel assault on the mind. And I don't have to tell you that the rhythm section is tight and that Caliman and Freddie blow like gods with brass instruments in their hands, do I?
 Freddie Hubbard Quintet featuring Leon Thomas
Onkel Po’s
Hamburg, Germany

Set 1
01 Love Connection
02 Little Sunflower
03 Cousin Mary
04 Let the Rain Fall On Me
05 Song for My Father
06 Chains of Love
07 One
Set 2
08 Blues for Duane
09 Take It to the Ozone
10 One of Another Kind
11 Here's that Rainy Day
12 A Night In Tunisia
13 After the Rain
14 Straight No Chaser
15 Boom Boom Boom

natural disc break is after Track 09, making CD1 total 1:14:04 and CD2 1:07:21

Freddie Hubbard - trumpet & flugelhorn
Hadley Caliman - tenor sax and flute, percussion
Billy Childs - acoustic & electric piano
Larry Klein - bass
Carl Burnett - drums
Leon Thomas - vocals on tracks 3-7 and 11-15

pre-FM reels from the archives of WDR Radio
This is a burning show with a ton of diversity, ranging from hardcore bumpin' funk showcases to straight-ahead balladry to jazz standards like A Night In Tunisia and After the Rain, sung by Leon Thomas with actual lyrics. All in all, it's 2+ hours of awesome both in terms of the performance and the sound quality, so press that button and infuse your Monday with magnificent music! And of course we honor the great Freddie Hubbard, the birthday boy born this day in 1938. --J.

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