Freddie Hubbard – New Colors
(Hip Bop – 2001)
by John Barrett
The trumpet master is backed by The New Jazz Composers Octet, a group of ambitious young men on the “progressive” side of the mainstream. (This also could be said of the Jazz Messengers, in which Freddie cut his teeth.) Do they belong in Freddie’s company? From “One of Another Kind”, the answer is yes: Freddie is surrounded by reeds, each rolling smoothly in place. The intro is warm, but the song is tense – there’s a springy bassline from Dwayne Burno, and the piano (Xavier Davis) reminds me of Cedar Walton. A mighty roar of brass, and Freddie is off, whooping like a French horn. (and listen to Myron Walden, whose alto is tart and tough.) From a brassy fog, the “Blue Spirits” emerge: Craig Handy with a chirping soprano, Freddie with a mellow whisper. Other horns shout, the baritone barrels through – this is a manly waltz. Kenny Garrett brings his funky horn to “Blues for Miles” (Xavier pounds a good solo) and the Octet brings a big band’s power to “Dizzy’s Connotations”. This bossa has bite: Freddie’s solo is hopeful, Javon Jackson’s is placid, and Xavier’s is driven hard. The parts are strong, but the whole is stronger yet.
You’ll be impressed by the Octet, whose last album (on Fresh sounds) is highly recommended. (Trumpeter David Weiss doesn’t solo, but he wrote most of the thrilling arrangements. The classic “Red Clay” is told in deep brass, the sad chords plodding along. Burno skips on this one, offsetting the band’s percussive blasts. Hubbard growls more than normal; Handy combines a Coltrane note-choice with a ‘Fifties tone. “Osie Mae” is a good old-fashioned strut: the sass belongs to Handy, who sounds a little like Johnny Griffin. And “Inner Space” is one for the band: Freddie doesn’t solo, and the horns lock in emphatic riffing. Hooray for Myron Walden – he is a star of the future. And hooray for Freddie Hubbard; his example leads everyone to shine.