Hubert Laws: Amazing Grace
Hubert Laws (flute)
The Best of Hubert Laws (Sony 88697203523)
Ralph McDonald (percussion), John Tropea (guitar), Romeo Penque (flutes, English horn), Jack Knitzer (bassoon), James Buffington (French horn), Alan Rubin, Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn), Garnett Brown (trombone), plus a 13-piece string section.
Arranged and conducted by Don Sebesky.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Sept.-Oct. 1972
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Laws has proven to be adept at playing jazz, soul, R&B, and last, but certainly not least, classical music. As he began a series of recordings for CTI in the late '60's that would propel him to a level of popularity only experienced up to that time by one other jazz flutist, Herbie Mann, Laws was also performing with the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. CTI's Creed Taylor took full advantage of Laws' virtuosic technique and vibrant, penetrating tone on a number of arrangements of classical pieces as well as quite memorably on the famous and entrancing Christian hymn "Amazing Grace."
The cavernously deep sound that Laws projects on alto flute to begin "Amazing Grace" is both soothing and inspirational, as are the softly undulating strings in the background. When Laws switches to a more impassioned attack on standard flute, the orchestra swells movingly in support. Laws' crescendo leads to his brief, unaccompanied, fluttering solo break, and then once again to the pristine beauty of the melody, played at the very end on alto flute as the track fades out. Thanks to the harmonious combination of Laws' flutes and Don Sebesky's arrangement, the potent lyrics—which were written in 1772 by repentant former slave trader John Newton—are not overly missed.
Reviewer: Scott Albin