Freddie Hubbard
Ready for Freddie


4.5
superb

Review

by robertsona STAFF
April 23rd, 2019 | 11 replies


Release Date: 1961 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Highly satisfying when taken as a whole, Ready for Freddie is the kind of consummately rendered product that might do more than merely satisfy us—iit might even have a lesson to teach us about our own potential.

Among the warmest and most affable of the many classic albums released within the set of performance motifs critics and record companies took to calling “hard bop,” 1962’s Ready for Freddie is both an instrumental showcase for its frontman and a dense sonic weave, irreducible to just one person. The complex and distinctly jazzy dynamic whereby the boundaries of individual-vs.-group are by turns muddled and emphasized has been written about a lot, but you’re unlikely to find a record as replete with the pleasures of this Schrödingeresque improvisational rapport than this session, recorded when trumpeter Freddie Hubbard was a mere 23 years old.

Ready for Freddie is one of those records that is sonically pleasing from any given perspective, played at any time of day, front to back or in snippets, at the gym (OK…maybe) or in the kitchen. The aesthetic gratification even the most casual jazz fan will find in this album is surely an effect of the world-class talent on display. You may not know Kiane Zawadi f.k.a. Bernard McKinney—who is superb here—but that’s because nobody knows anyone who plays the euphonium. Otherwise, I mean, c’mon: McCoy Tyner" Art Davis" Honorary best-drummer-ever Elvin Jones" Even Wayne Shorter, whose chintzy tone (yeah I said it) does nothing for me on his own 1960s records, plays with a flow that is smooth and profound in equal measure.

A slate of well-regarded names represents only part of the story, however; one of the marks of Ready for Freddie’s greatness is the ease with which its constituent musicians slide in and out of spotlight. Hardly self-abnegating, these musicians nonetheless proceed from a concept of camaraderie as hand-in-hand with personal expression, so that each part adds up to a whole and is a whole in itself. Even Elvin Jones, who in his youth would have cast his aggressions on a loping rhythm like that of closer “Crisis,” instead takes it easy, allowing McCoy Tyner to probe the boundaries of modal improvisation with minimal interference. Or just listen to the first notes of opener “Arietis,” where each horn lightly pops with ebullience. (Give it up to producer Alfred Lion, who records each instrument in seemingly perfect conditions, at a seemingly perfect distance from the microphone, so that both the notes themselves and the spaces between them ring out.) From the Charlie Parker-copping modulations of Hubbard’s own “Birdlike” (get it") to the languorous Victor Young composition “Weaver of Dreams,” these songs, none of them stone-cold classics per se, are wholly transformed by the polish of the interplay of sounds practiced by these musicians. No element is out of place.

What’s so beautiful to witness within and beyond this level of care is that Hubbard stands tall even among this world-class sextet. On the evidence of the records to which he contributed—Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960), Out to Lunch! (1964), Ascension (1965), you name ‘em—this guy deserves as much credit as just about anyone else for moving the compositional motifs of jazz music forward into a brave new era. But he was always a man of classical pleasures at heart, and this record bears out his belief in the basic expressive potential of jazz improvisation. Like his forebear Clifford Brown, Hubbard is attuned to the power of repetition as a means to various ends—erudition, precision, humor. The echoing phrase Spotify tells me occurs two minutes and fifty-seven seconds into “Weaver of Dreams” is the proof in the pudding: dancing lightly over Jones’ brushstrokes and Tyner’s poignant open chords, the trumpeter finds Heaven in four or five notes—Hell if I can tell the difference—yoked closely together by a quick tongue and finger. Moments like these disclose the uniquely spontaneous articulations of jazz music and the genius of those articulating. Highly satisfying when taken as a whole, Ready for Freddie is the kind of consummately rendered product that might do more than merely satisfy us—it might even have a lesson to teach us about our own potential.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


17031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I tried. Good album

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


17031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yo I swear to fucking god with those question marks turning into quotation marks

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


18622 Comments


whooa momma

Digging: Flying Lotus - Flamagra

Observer
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


6819 Comments


sowing has a list post that i used where you can copy and paste that question mark pic. Looks unnatural but its the best this site can do with the issue now i guess.

interesting, never heard of a euphonium so you'd be right there lol

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With the Arab Strap

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


17031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the euphonium sort of sounds like a trombone maybe but it's played like a trumpet so to speak. it's interesting to compare the way mckinney/zawadi sounds on this to something like, idk, grachan moncur III's performance on the album Evolution from one year later. it's probably easier to sound good on an instrument where you press buttons than on one where you have to slide a damn thing up and down. idk tho

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


17031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

more jazz reviews otw i think

Observer
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2019


6819 Comments


that'd be great and good for the site. Never delved much into jazz other than madlib's shades of blue (jazz remixed basically) which was pretty awesome

50iL
April 23rd 2019


5143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah, great stuff. This needed a review pretty badly.

Digging: Lili Boulanger - Works of Lili Boulanger

TheLongShot
April 23rd 2019


792 Comments


Oh funny, I just listened to Open Sesame earlier tonight. Good stuff, great review!

RadicalEd
April 23rd 2019


9546 Comments


Gotta check. Review is hot.

Zig
April 23rd 2019


1748 Comments


Hubbard is a fantastic side musician. Need to get into his work.

Digging: Gabor Szabo - Dreams



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