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Lost On The Shelves: Freddie Hubbard – Super Blue

November 30, 2016

The last couple of years I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. Yesterday I got the bright idea to google “jazz podcast” and I found a short interview with Freddie Hubbard from the 90s and I was reminded of my love of Super Blue. I googled some more and found the Jazz Bastard Podcast. I then listened to an episode focused on Freddie Hubbard. That motivated me to pull out one of my favorite jazz albums: Freddie Hubbard’s Super Blue.

First let me say I really liked the Jazz Bastard Podcast. I will be checking out more episodes. The format is simple: a couple of articulate jazz fans select a topic (in this case Hubbard), pull a handful of signature albums related to the topic, play 30 second snippets and then riff on those albums. These guys are knowledgeable, but not pretentious snobs. They say what they know, have strong opinions and are not afraid to reveal their ignorance. They are honest and enthusiastic.

The Jazz Bastard Podcast’s take on Hubbard is that he is a very good player but not a hall of famer. That seems fair.

I am not sure how I came upon Super Blue, but I am pretty sure I picked up the album shortly after it came out in 1978. I loved it at first listen and it was in regular rotation on my turntable for several years. It is a who’s who of great jazz cats: Herbert Laws, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Baron and on one cut George Benson.

I am not that familiar with Hubbard’s discography, but if you were to take his Blue Note stuff and merge it with his CTI stuff, Super Blue is what you would get (Super Blue is on Columbia). It is slick, but not syrupy. It has some hard bop, but is accessible.

The production values are gorgeous. This is a great sounding record. Hubbard is a virtuosic player, but what prevails is his rich tone. Whether he is milking a ballad (“The Surest Things Can Change”), hard bopping (“Theme For Kareem”) or funking out (“Super Blue”), Hubbard’s tone prevails. His tone is like soft caramel. The sidemen augment, but don’t overpower  – this is clearly a Hubbard date.

This is not a 5 star record, but is very good on and it is important to me because it was influential in forming my love of jazz when I was 19 years old. My ears were young and inexperienced when I cut my teeth on Super Blue. Listening to it nearly four decades later it still sounds great. I am sure my appreciation of the CTI catalog was formed by this Columbia release.

  1. Freddie Hubbard’s not a “Hall of Famer”? You’re kidding, right?

    • I am probably too ignorant to say who belongs and who does not. But as an uniformed listener and I had to pick between Freddie and Woody Shaw for example I would pick Woody because he has not tainted himself with commercial material and is a better composer. To my casual ears they are about the same as technicians. But I would love to be schooled by some one more knowledge – like a real trumpeter like you. Thanks for reading and commenting. I just had another Freddie post last night. Check it out.

  2. I don’t have this one but a few others. I seen him back around the time he cut this record. I’ll give it a listen

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Freddie not one of the best all time?

    • Yes he is. He was as overshadowed by Miles. He occasionally made some artistic missteps, but there is no denying is chops.

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