Sunday, April 01, 2012

Freddie Hubbard's First Light Celebrated By CTI Masterworks Reissue

As part of its celebration of the 40th Anniversary of CTI Records, Sony has through the CTI Masterworks imprint reissued Freddie Hubbard’s First Light. First Light was a Grammy Award winning recording, and had Hubbard with a band that included drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Ron Carter, guitarist George Benson, pianist (acoustic and electric) Ricard Wyands, percussionist Airto Moreira along with a large orchestral horn and string section that included flautist Hubert Laws.

The title track certain is one of the high points here as it has some sparkling trumpet by the leader as well as some sizzling fretwork from Benson and flute from Laws with the orchestrated setting sweetening the sound to some extent in framing Hubbard’s playing with the music fading at the end. Following is a melodically rooted interpretation of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. The arrangements are uncredited although likely are by Don Sebesky as this performance suggests similar pop-jazz recordings by Wes Montgomery. Guitarist Benson adds some interesting guitar set against Wyands electric piano.

There is a lovely rendition of the Mancini/Mercer standard Moment To Moment, followed by very appealing muted playing on a Don Sebesky/ Norman Martin plaintive ballad Yesterday’s Dreams. The initial release concluded with some atmospheric playing on Lonely Town from the musical On the Town. On this reissue there are a couple of bonus selections that were not on the original recording. Cedar Walton’s Fantasy in D (Polar AC) from the same sessions that produced this album with Hubbard and the rhythm section exhibiting a bit more fervor and rhythmic pulse with Laws taking a flighty solo before Hubbard takes this out soaring with some more fire in his playing.

This particular reissue of First Light concludes with a lengthy live performance of the title track from Detroit in 1973 with Eric Gales on guitar, DeJohnette, Carter and an uncredited electronic keyboard player (Wyands?) on an extended performance that provides a fuller display of Hubbard’s dazzling brilliance and range. Gales takes a solo that exhibits his blues-inflected playing and DeJohnette takes a brief solo before Hubbard leads everyone out.

There is plenty of Freddie Hubbard’s often dazzling trumpet to be heard here, although there are some that may not be fans of the orchestrated settings for his performances.

My review copy was provided by a publicist for this release.

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