main: December 2008 Archives
Rudresh Mahanthappa -- an extraordinary American jazzman of South Asian descent -- has a critical fave with Kinsmen, his album featuring his own alto sax coupled with that of Indian Carnatic master musician Kadri Golpanath, supported by Karachi-born but L.A.-bred former surfer/electric guitarist Rez Abassi, violin, bass, traps, mridingam from East and West. They all talk and play in my NPR production on last night's "All Things Considered."
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard died last night around 2 a.m. in Sherman Oaks Hospital (Los Angeles) of complications following a heart attack he had suffered on the night before Thanksgiving (November 26), not November 30 as previously reported. He was 70 years old.
Gifted with powerful technique, abundant melodic imagination, rhythmic drive and a deep bluesy feeling, Hubbard emerged in the 1960s as one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and recorded timeless music throughout that decade with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill and many others -- as well as leading his own crackling sessions for Blue Note and Atlantic Records. He was not ideologically an avant-gardist; his compositions such as "Up Jumped Spring" had a lyrical playfulness. But he also excelled at expressing urgency with tunes such as "Crisis" and "Breaking Point."
You can't buy 'em music, 'cause you don't know what they're missing - so try other music and beyond formats (books, videos, music toys) as stocking stuffers for the out-leaning --
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" -- the most odious quasi-pop song ever committed -- was ringing in my semi-conscious loud enough to jolt me out of sleep one night last week (I summoned to mind "Night In Tunisia," trying to recall ever kink in Charlie Parker's famous alto break, to dispell it). "Little Drummer Boy," "Silent Night," Gene Autry's original version of "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" and James Taylor singing "Go Tell It On The Mountain" -- does it really have an extended chorus for recorder ensemble? -- assault me at the grocery store (the butcher behind the deli counter fights it with a salsa radio station on high volume). "Jingle Bell Rock" is the best of the bunch -- at least Bobby Helms swings and the guitar twangs. Must we suffer this cloying drivel every winter holiday?
L.A.-based jazz consultant Ricky Shultz (who directed one of this year's most innovative label rollouts for Resonance Records) writes: "Freddie Hubbard suffered heart failure last Sunday and is in ICU. One of Freddie's past bandmates spoke with his wife yesterday a.m. He is being worked on to revive certain organs' function. I'm told there were some encouraging signs but his condition remains critical. Share some love with all that great Freddie music and keep him in your thoughts."
Trumpeter Hubbard has been a jazzman's jazzman and a jazz listener's, too, bringing bravura chops and visceral feeling to acts of creative daring as a form of popular entertainment (and sometimes art) for 50 years. What follows is my feature article on Freddie Hubbard in "authorized" form, slightly different than the version published as the cover story in Down Beat last June:
On the second of four nights at Freddie Hubbard's record date with the New Jazz Composers Octet in December 2007, the star trumpeter didn't commit a note. He improvised poses, faces and witticisms, but no lines on his horn. He didn't even venture into the isolation booth Tony Bennett's sound engineer had prepared for him...