Labels We Love – CTI

Sky Diving with Freddie Hubbard

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  • Off the charts “Triple Triple” (A+++) sound for this classic Freddie Hubbard CTI album – both sides won our shootout, earning our top grade of Triple Plus
  • This is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the early ’70s
  • Hubbard got together a great group of Funky Jazz players to support him here, with Don Sebesky doing his usual inventive arrangements
  • 4 Stars: “Freddie Hubbard’s fourth CTI recording certainly has a diverse repertoire. The charts for the brass and woodwinds are colorful; there is a fine supporting cast that includes guitarist George Benson, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, and flutist Hubert Laws; and Hubbard takes several outstanding trumpet solos.”

Rudy was getting one hell of a lively trumpet sound on tape during this period in his career. If you have a good pressing of one of his early ’70s jazz recordings the sound can be positively EXPLOSIVE, with what feels like all the size and power of live music.

Sonic Issues

Smear. It’s by far the most common problem with the copies we played. When the transient bite of the trumpet is correctly reproduced, maintaining its full-bodied tone and harmonic structures, you know you have a very special copy of Sky Dive (or Straight Life or First Light or Red Clay, etc.). When the sound is blurry, thick, veiled, dull or slow, you have what might be considered something more like the average copy.

By the way, if you don’t have a hot copy of Red Clay, get one. It’s some of the best funky jazz ever recorded. No collection should be without it.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Povo 
In a Mist

Side Two

The Godfather 
Sky Dive

AMG Review

Freddie Hubbard’s fourth CTI recording (and the second one with Don Sebesky arrangements) certainly has a diverse repertoire. In addition to his originals “Povo” and “Sky Dive” (both of which are superior jam tunes), the trumpeter stretches out on the theme from The Godfather and Bix Beiderbecke’s “In a Mist.” The charts for the brass and woodwinds are colorful; there is a fine supporting cast that includes guitarist George Benson, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, and flutist Hubert Laws; and Hubbard takes several outstanding trumpet solos.

Don Sebesky

Don Sebesky is best known as house arranger for many of producer Creed Taylor’s Verve, A&M, and CTI productions; the man whose orchestral backgrounds helped make artists like Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, Freddie Hubbard, and George Benson acceptable to audiences outside of jazz.

He has taken critical heat for this, but Sebesky’s arrangements have usually been among the classiest in his field, reflecting a solid knowledge of the orchestra, drawing variously from big band jazz, rock, ethnic music, classical music of all eras, and even the avant-garde for ideas. He once cited Bartok as his favorite composer, but one also hears lots of Stravinsky in his work.

In 1960, he gave up the trombone to concentrate upon arranging and conducting, eventually receiving the breakthrough assignment of Montgomery’s Bumpin’ album (1965). Some of the most attractive examples of his work for jazz headliners include Bumpin’, Benson’s The Shape of Things to Come, Desmond’s From the Hot Afternoon, and Hubbard’s First Light.

AMG

Freddie Hubbard

All Music Guide Bio

One of the great jazz trumpeters of all time, Freddie Hubbard formed his sound out of the Clifford Brown/Lee Morgan tradition, and by the early ’70s was immediately distinctive and the pacesetter in jazz.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Hubbard played early on with Wes and Monk Montgomery. He moved to New York in 1958, roomed with Eric Dolphy (with whom he recorded in 1960), and was in the groups of Philly Joe Jones (1958-1959), Sonny Rollins, Slide Hampton, and J.J. Johnson, before touring Europe with Quincy Jones (1960-1961). He recorded with John Coltrane, participated in Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz (1960), was on Oliver Nelson’s classic Blues and the Abstract Truth album (highlighted by “Stolen Moments”), and started recording as a leader for Blue Note that same year.

Hubbard gained fame playing with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1961-1964) next to Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller. He recorded Ascension with Coltrane (1965), Out to Lunch (1964) with Eric Dolphy, and Maiden Voyage with Herbie Hancock, and, after a period with Max Roach (1965-1966), he led his own quintet, which at the time usually featured altoist James Spaulding. A blazing trumpeter with a beautiful tone on flügelhorn, Hubbard fared well in freer settings but was always essentially a hard bop stylist.

In 1970, Freddie Hubbard recorded two of his finest albums (Red Clay and Straight Life) for CTI. The follow-up, First Light (1971), was actually his most popular date, featuring Don Sebesky arrangements. But after the glory of the CTI years (during which producer Creed Taylor did an expert job of balancing the artistic with the accessible), Hubbard made the mistake of signing with Columbia and recording one dud after another; Windjammer (1976) and Splash (a slightly later effort for Fantasy) are low points.

However, in 1977, he toured with Herbie Hancock’s acoustic V.S.O.P. Quintet and, in the 1980s, on recordings for Pablo, Blue Note, and Atlantic, he showed that he could reach his former heights (even if much of the jazz world had given up on him).

Kenny Burrell – God Bless The Child

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Jazz Classics

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Kenny Burrell – God Bless The Child

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is one of our favorite orchestra-backed jazz records here at Better Records. A few others off the top of my head would be Wes Montgomery’s California Dreaming (1966, and also Sebesky-arranged), Grover Washington’s All the King’s Horses (1973) and Deodato’s Prelude (also 1973, with brilliant arrangements by the man himself).

On a killer copy like this the sound is out of this world. Rich and full, open and transparent, this one defeated all comers in our shootout, taking the Top Prize for sound and earning all Three Pluses. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Jazz Classics

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Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original CTI pressing has two wonderful sides, including an AMAZING A+++ SIDE TWO! This side two has amazingly good Demo Disc sound. RVG knocked this one out of the park, that’s for damn sure.

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is possibly the funkiest jazz track he ever got down on tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience — and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

More Freddie Hubbard

Side One

Side one gets going with the perennial favorite, Red Clay. The intro starts off with a stylized free-form jam, sounding like a bop-jazz band of old, then takes form and solidifies into a groove of monstrous proportions. Ron Carter’s bass playing is stellar and that fingers-on-frets sound is heard on this copy. Super clear and present, this side has zero smear and amazingly explosive transients! A touch more top and this would be right there with side two.

Like many of our funky favorites, this one was eventually sampled for a popular hip-hop song. That may not mean much to you, but it definitely means that nice copies of this album get swiped up quickly by young DJs and producers. (more…)