Sunday, June 12, 2011

Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

This was recorded in January of 1970. Many jazz musicians had been feeling the pressures of rock's popularity. Freddie Hubbard had occasionally experimented as early as 1966 with rock (or soul) rhythms. "Red Clay" was his first album for CTI, but it's not like his other, rock-oriented output for the label. The title cut is the only original-album tune with a rock beat. But even then, Lenny White contributes interesting stuff with quality, real-jazz interaction. Other than the organ on "Delphia," a 6/8-swing tune, Herbie Hancock plays electric piano throughout. Joe Henderson stays more in the background on those first two cuts, but the band stretches out and swings wonderfully on "Suite Sioux" and "The Intrepid Fox." Joe's solos--as usual--balance perfectly between "in" and "out." Freddie soars in typical fashion; often, it's of the can't-believe-yer-ears nature.This music--largely because of Herbie's light touch--has an airy lilt to it: a fresh, liberated feel. The electric piano (that classic Rhodes sound) is part of it, as is Ron Carter's heady, understated bass. "Cold Turkey" (a bonus cut) gets an imaginative, and yes, groovy treatment. It's hard to sit still to it. Another bonus cut, an alternate take of "Red Clay," is added this time around, but if you already own the previous CD incarnation, I don't think you need to buy this--unless you strive for completeness. Great music, folks. This wonderful album gets my unqualified recommendation, and should please both hard-core jazz fans and those who just dabble in it.


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