Freddie Hubbard : Blues by Five


Blues by Five


Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)


Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969

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Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Sir Roland Hanna (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Louis Hayes (drums).

Composed by Red Garland


Recorded: Colston Hall, Bristol, England, December 14, 1969


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

While working on his final recording, On the Real Side, Hubbard would spend the commute back and forth from the studio listening to unreleased live tracks from his 1969 European tour. "Freddie really enjoyed the music," David Weiss recalls, and well he should have—after all, who was playing hotter trumpet than Mr. Hubbard at the close of the 1960s? Even the estimable Miles Davis, who would be selling records by the boatload in a few months after the release of Bitches Brew, would not scare the cats at a jam session the way Hubbard could at this point in his career.

Six months after Hubbard's death, Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969 hits the streets, and the rest of us can enjoy this stirring document of the trumpeter at age 31. There is plenty of fine mid-career Hubbard music on record, but the CTI releases rarely sound this spontaneous and unbridled. And the Columbia records have become collectors' rarities due to that mega-global-industrial behemoth's brilliant decision to keep most of the jazz in their vaults off the market. In this environment, the trumpeter's live performance of "Blues by Five" earns a spot on your iPod.

This is just a twelve-bar blues, but Hubbard plays with characteristic fire, and is supported by a world-class rhythm section. He quotes from "A Love Supreme" at one point on this composition associated with Miles Davis, but this is neither Trane-ish progressivism nor Milesian moodiness. During a turbulent era in jazz, Hubbard focused on swing, drive and in-the-moment excitement. I'm not sure if that is a formula, or rather a statement of the art form's core principles, but it still works for me some forty years after it grabbed audiences in Europe.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


  • 1 CURLY // Jun 08, 2009 at 03:52 PM
    Play the dang jazz song!!! OMG!