JAZZ CRUSADERS FOUNDER NESBERT “STIX” HOOPER MAKES RARE L.A. CONCERT APPEARANCE


@blues2jazzguy ~stage photos-Robert Hill

Nov.17_Friday night in L.A, a intimate crowd of super fans gathered at The Jerry Moss Theater. Mainly to catch a rare glimpse of the last surviving member of The Jazz Crusaders.

You know..That powerful ensemble that played muscular, bluesy variations of bebop known as hard bop. Their roots coming out of Houston,Texas. Nesbert or Stix, as he is affectionately called, formed a core group in high school, along with pianist Joe Sample, tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder while performing together as the Swingsters in high school. Joe Sample met the trombonist Wayne Henderson at Texas Southern University and also joined by bassist Henry Wilson and woodwinds specialist(flutes/saxes) Hubert Laws. Laws went on to achieve notoriety on his own as a master flautist and bandleader. But during this period, they had changed its name to the Modern Jazz Sextet.

Stix and the band worked the Houston area for several years but did not have much major success until Mr. Sample, Mr. Felder, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to The Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, The Jazz Messengers. Their first album, “Freedom Sound,” released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic global audiences and critical praise.

The Jazz Crusaders went on to become one of the most highly acclaimed jazz group in the history of music. The roots of The Jazz Crusaders touched its branches everywhere.. including pop, rock and soul. many collaborations such as Joe Sample with Bobby Hutcherson, or Lela Hathaway, or Wilton Felder with Letta Mbulu or soul-belter Bobby Womack, Wayne Henderson producing and writing for acts in all types of music. Stix was no stranger either, though not active with group much, He still penned hits for blues, pop and soul artists for last 3 decades.

This intimate concert in L.A.Westside’s Moss Theater was superb. we were treated to a cornucopia of musical treats from all points of the globe.. the only thing was, Stix refused to use the microphone, so we were not privy who all those wonderful musicians were. But they were very good . two guitarists, for starters.. one from an eastern European country, and the other  from South America . The acoustic pianist, Russian, while the electric keyboardist hailed from new Zealand.

The bass player was a “homie” from L.A., He even acknowledged a legendary drummer in attendance, Ndugu Chancler, as he looked on approvingly of the action on stage.

The trumpet and saxophonist were very good soloists. Sorry, the opportunity to identify band members did not happen as I anticipated. But I really enjoyed the show. so it was a win-win in my opinion. I will work harder next time to gather more information, since no one acted as spokesperson after concert.

We were whisked out of room , as the band had a meet-n-greet” and signing commitment backstage after the show.

I recommend you follow Stix Hooper via Facebook or his website, http://www.stixhooper.com

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TWO HOURS WITH AZAR LAWRENCE EXPERIENCE ~ THE RIGHT PRESCRIPTION


Los Angeles, CA. Nov 14__ The City of angels needed a rest from crazy news cycles and bad traffic reports,the perfect Rx was written last Sunday evening at Zebulon Café. Concord Records Group newest label, The Jazz Dispensary served up AZAR LAWRENCE EXPERIENCE in Bridge into the New Age .

Lawrence brought in his all-star lineup of jazz greats to recreate the spirit of his 1970s Original album. that album featured the best of the best of that era in musicianship, featuring the likes of trumpeter Woody Shaw and the electrifying Jean Carne on vocals. Azar Lawrence (ZARMAN) wasted no time in introducing the SRO crowd in the 300 seat club to gems from the album as the 7 piece band flexed its jazz muscles on the title track, Bridge into The New Age, a heavy mixture of hard-bop, modal and world fusion. One could not help but notice the audience, as it was multi-generational. The millennial and gen-X hipsters were digging on fiery-cosmic rhythms being fanned by veteran drummers Roy McCurdy and Munyugo Jackson on percussions & toys. Holding down the bottom was the “Skipper” Henry Franklin on bass. Anchoring the rhythm unit was the former keyboards for the late Alphonse Mouzon Quintet and current pianist Theo Saunders.The frontline, the very powerful trumpeter(Michael Hunter) and Azar Lawrence on saxes.

Sounding like an Angel on earth was the very beautiful, Ms.Windy Barnes-Farrell reaching new heights on vocals.

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipM5dIST7pfJjnqxjY5Qt3X5Zxz5tZQwnlcUGaQE

One of the highlights of the evening was a velvety ballad by Azar and the band with vocals on the translucent and stellar composition, Fatisha,written by Azar.. He followed that cut up with a universal spiritual tune that begins with all drums and percussions with a minimal arcing by bassist Henry Franklin, before Lawrence then spins on chanted-spoken words, before being joined by the swirling rhythms of the band on The Beautiful and Omnipresent Love . Pick up your copy today at your favorite online store for music. https://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/jazz-dispensary/

 

 

 

 

 

 

mgt./media info Go to~ https://azarlawrence.com/  

Jazz Journalist RJ Carmack, vocalist-Windy Barnes-Farrell

 

CALIFORNIA MUSEUM JAZZ & BLUES: MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO ELLA AND JOE


California Jazz and Blues Museum

presents
A Shirt and a Skirt
Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams
Starring jazz legend Kevin Mahogany
with special guest jazz vocalist
Barbara Morrison
Friday, November 17
8:00 pm
The proceeds of this event benefit the programs of the
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!
Our CJBM mission is to educate audiences about the importance of the influence that California, its artists and geographical venues have in the worldwide genre of jazz and blues. We deliver an annual calendar of innovative and inspiring exhibitions, programs, and events.
We appreciate your support. Donate here.
For more information on the California Jazz and Blues Museum or the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center,
please call (310) 462-1439 or visit
Barbara Morrison
Founder and President

 

PATRICE RUSHEN: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY FINGERS!


Patrice Louise Rushen (born September 30) is quite the  jazz pianist and R&B singer. She’s also a composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and music director. Her 1982 single, “Forget Me Nots“, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Rushen had great success on the R&B and dance charts. “Haven’t You Heard” went number 7 on the R&B charts, with “Forget Me Nots” as her only top 40 pop hit. Patrice is held high within the Jazz community as one of the Best of her generation on piano.

In her teens, she attended south LA’s Locke High School and went on to earn a degree in music from the University of Southern California.  Respectfully known among her legions of fans as  “Baby-fingers,” a reference to her small hands. Berklee School of Music bestowed on her, a Doctorate in Music. She is currently holding down an important academic post at the University of Southern California in their school of Performing Arts. all the while being a wife,a mom, and still taking first-calls for recording and production assignments in Television and Films. There are rumors floating around ,she may have been selected to be part of an ambitious Television project involving children and the jazz legacy of Hazel Scott. Who by the way, was a child prodigy just like Patrice. According to unnamed sources,we found out, there’s a new children’s book series(Little Melanie) being developed for Television involving British and American kids in the cast.

Ms. Rushen will supervised the musical aspects. a London-based production studio. London-5-Studios are the executive producers. #LittleMelanieMyGrandPiano, #London5Studios

TODD BARKAN’S KEYSTONE KORNER 45 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN JAZZ


posted by Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy

Tom Copi photo

Keystone Korner’s 45th Anniversary Celebration  July 7 & 8 2017
One of the best Jazz weekends in the San Francisco Bay area in decades. First, after you get over the initial shock of the lineup and why, then it all makes sense.

I was in touch with Todd Barkan as soon as I heard through the grapevine there was truly some type of celebration being planned months ahead of the date.  This of course forced me to research and find out just who actually played the North Beach venue .
Many of the great ones that played Keystone Korner are no longer with us.. But Todd selected an absolute stellar group of musicians, all legends and all-stars in their own right.  Tenor Saxophonists, Mel Martin and Azar Lawrence, Alto Sax, Gary Bartz and Charles McPherson , Bassists, Juini Booth and Ray Drummond, Drummers Akira Tana and Roy McCurdy, Percussion Kenneth Nash, Guitarist Calvin Keys, Pianist Denny Zeitlin and Theo Saunders, plus a great group from Japan, Atsuko Hashimoto B3 jazz trio.

photo by brian mcMillen

Equally important as the musicians themselves , Todd chose great venues for the presentation . starting on July 7 at Kuumbwa’s Jazz in Santa Cruz, a coastal city ripe for a top-shelf jazz set.

 

 

The very next day, Saturday July 8th, it couldn’t get any better for a gorgeous afternoon of riveting jazz. He chose the gem of the bay area, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. A unique club carved out of a beautiful home on the cliff side staring into Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco on the peninsula. Follow that Car!! great management, great drinks and service.

You know it not always clear where your next great story is going to come from or, who you might see along the way to that story. but one thing for sure , If you know anything about Todd Barkan..You just grab a brew or some wine, sit down and listen. Todd Barkan the successful Jazz presenter, piano player, record producer, jazz archivist, and  husband.

As I looked around the sanctuary and hung-out down in the green room, I observed the interaction between Todd Barkan and the many friends and fans of the “Korner”,but mostly the musicians, the “fellas”, there was a special kinship or bond between both presenter and musicians.  It’s not even close to being that way “now days”. In my chats with several of the band members and supporters leading up to this great weekend, well almost to a man, they all said pretty much the same. “Todd is one of us.. we are family. “Sadly, a lot of the old gang who frequently played the club during its hey-day are no longer with us. Their spirit lives on in Todd and the musicians memories.

Part of the weekend which also made it a special “NICE TOUCH” was having some of the photographers who were, and still a big part of  archiving this genre and historic occasions in the Bay area.  Three of the best were among the guests at the happenings , Ms. Kathy Sloane, who published a book about the days and nights at Keystone Korner. Fellow shutterbugs, Jim Bourne and Brian McMillen weaved in and out of the scene and captured many great shots to document (see a smattering of their work below)

photo by Brian McMillen

photo by Jim Bourne of Juini Booth

Akira Tana & Kenneth Nash photos by Jim Bourne

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo by Jim Bourne of Ray Drummond

 

Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society(founded loosely in late 1950s by Pete Douglas). But officially as a Jazz and classical music venue in 1964. The crown jewel of Bay area venues was the true “scene of the crime.”

Just prior to his opening remarks, Todd seemed like he was reflecting over his well documented record of work over the last 45 years plus!

1972 -1983, Over a decade in great music was presented on a 7 day a week basis at Keystone Korner  in North Beach. And, all of San Francisco, even the “East Bay peeps” came across the bridge on any given night to see the sights, enjoy the fruits of labor from the giants. Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Stan Getz, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner,Mary Lou Williams, Art Pepper, Freddie Hubbard, Zoot Sims and Charles Mingus,Bobby Hutcherson,Cedar Walton ,Art Blakey, Michael White featuring Kenneth Nash and, Ed Kelly on piano and Ray Drummond bass.

Todd opened the club in 1972, and that was the starting point for greatness that never ceased until the last act in Charles McPherson’s group playing the last set 1983.

Charles McPherson photo by Jim Bourne

Part of the “pomp and circumstance” were watching all that talent being switched around and configured to fit mood, moment and personnel, which was masterfully orchestrated by the “Todd-Father”(Barkan) . a pleasant surprise insertion was Theo Saunders for Benito Gonzalez ..the native new Yorker demonstrated why he’s a first-call pianist in Southern California, even international, as Saunders bio reads like a who’s who in jazz for over three decades. 

Bright Moment for me was a beautiful duet ballad by old friends, Denny Zeitlin and saxophonist Gary Bartz.  Before beginning the song, Denny told the story of meeting Bartz in a jam session while at a Baltimore, Maryland club sitting-in on piano. (club owner was Gary’s Dad) the two clicked immediately musically, but Zeitlin had a small dilemma, He was studying medicine at John Hopkins with a burning desire to become a physician. But Zeitlin worked it all out. The two musicians are still friends today, Denny is also jazz pianist and also a respected Doctor of Psychiatry in the S.F. Bay area.

Photo by Robert J. Carmack Denny & Gary duet

Another stand out and surprise performances were a jazz trio from Japan, playing in a traditional B3 style group with Organ , Saxophone and Guitar. this stellar group was led by this very animated and dynamic B3 organ player, Astuko Hashimoto, Guitarist Yutaka Hashimoto, saxophone Hedeki Karamura.

Astuko Hashimoto photo by Jim Bourne

 

hideki kawamura photo by jim bourne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yutaka Hashimoto photo by Jim Bourne

Our friends from Japan were extremely busy on a blistery up-tempo blues in F, which stirred up things. It sort of reminded us of days of Jimmy Smith and Shirley Scott. Astuko brought the Fire!

As soon as all the smoke cleared from the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society’s sanctuary, especially as the ZAR-Meister(Azar Lawrence reunited with bassist Juini Booth(original live album at Keystone Korner, Atlantis by McCoy Tyner) added drummer Roy McCurdy and pianist Theo Saunders took us on a journey to Africa to Atlantis and back to Half Moon Bay. Word was, they had a gathering crowd about to converge on the restaurant Pier 23 on Embarcadero for part two of the Saturday’s festivities. A quaint and cozy Jazz spot off the Pier. Great enthusiasm with a full house awaiting to start the show 8pm hit at Pier 23. This crowd was grassroots and tuned in all the pyrotechnics that were to come later as the personnel expanded to included such jazz luminaries as saxophonist John Handy, trumpeter David Hardiman and SF Bay area’s Jazz man/Pilot, Roger Glenn on flute. along with Mel Martins band mates, plus  Larry Dunlap, Jeff Marr. to name a few.

Mel, Gary, and Azar.. photo by RJ Carmack Pier 23 July 8 2017

Easy Flowing Calvin Keys photo by Jim Bourne

Big shout out to all the management and owners of the various Jazz venues. your staff and personnel were professional and very warm.. Thanks to Mr. Todd Barkan, for all the Bright Moments, historic sessions,and recordings . You ARE truly a Jazz Master.(2018) Congratulations!!

Special Thanks to Mel Martin and his lovely wife for helping me out in a glaring situation. Catch my interview and chat with S.F. Bay legendary musician Mel Martin.

Coming August 10th @ http://www.hipstersanctuary.com

 

BUSTER WILLIAMS BUSTED LOOSE AT 75th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION CONCERT


Buster Williams & Jazz Journalist Robert J. Carmack photo by Robert Hill

posted by Robert J. Carmack

You know anytime you have a name like Buster , the bar is already set high! No need to worry as the 75 year old bassist did not disappoint the crowd attending the concert at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles last weekend(June 24). Buster Williams led an all-star team of jazz veterans into los Angeles anchored by the iconic drummer, Lenny White.

Lenny White drums

One of the surprises of the evening was the youngest member of the band in pianist,George Colligan. George is a jazz pianist, organist, drummer, trumpet player, educator, composer and bandleader based in Portland, Oregon. Colligan was born in New Jersey, and raised in Columbia, Maryland. He attended the Peabody Institute, majoring in classical trumpet and music education. In high school he learned to play the drums and later switched to piano. His playing is influenced by Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, and McCoy Tyner. The influences showed in many ways as he blistered solo after solo , which at times he seemed to levitate up from the piano stool, especially on a time honored classic as “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”

George Colligan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Wilson has attained ubiquitous status in the studio and on the stage with the greatest names in jazz, as well as critical acclaim as a bandleader in his own right. A musician’s musician, Wilson has brought his distinctive sound to more than 150 recordings led by such celebrated and wide-ranging artists as Chick Corea, George Duke, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Bill Bruford, Gerald Wilson, Maria Schneider, Joe Henderson, Charlie Byrd, Billy Childs, Karrin Allyson, Don Byron, and Mulgrew Miller among many others. He has eight recordings as a leader.

Steve Wilson.

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Anthony “Buster” Williams is THE “consummate”  jazz bassist. Williams is known for his membership in pianist Herbie Hancock’s early 1970s group, working with guitarist Larry Coryell in the 1980s.  Mid-1960s Buster recorded a plethora of sessions with Jazz Crusaders. He also worked in the Thelonious Monk Repertory Band, Mary Lou Williams Collective, Harold Land Quintet, Sphere and as the accompanist of choice for many singers, notably Ms. Nancy Wilson.

Buster soloing is as sublime as a “brand new Rolls Royce’s interior…his lines are impeccable, as he directs the band through his dynamics in the compositions. He gets the absolute maximum out of a quartet. with a drummer like White who paints as well as keeping time, but more importantly , the unit engages the audience into the story by the composer. Colligan’s experience with Buster, goes all the way back to the mid 90s, which gives him an edge to lead the band with his melodic solos into uncharted waters. Steve Wilson on Sax tends to provide at times, hummingbird-like precision playing of the melody. Followed by his own sub-themed compositions inside the original piece.. which acts like a butterfly leaving a cocoon. All in tow of placing the listener on the edge of their seats. He certainly made it a glorious occasion on last Saturday night performances. Salud!! Salud!! Master Buster. Thank You JAZZ BAKERY and RUTH PRICE!

“You Don’t Just Hear the Music,You Experience the Music”

Herbie Hancock

KEYSTONE KLIPPINS’:JAZZ ICONS SPEAK ABOUT TODD BARKAN AND SAN FRANCISCO’S KEYSTONE KORNER


posted by Robert J. Carmack     #@blues2jazzguy

Jazz impresario Todd Barkan is returning to the scene of the Jazz Crime, San Francisco with two dates to remember. July 7 & 8.

The great pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams referred to Keystone Korner as “the Birdland of the Seventies.” Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and Stan Getz all agreed that Keystone Korner was “the best jazz club in the world.”

Band personnel: Azar Lawrence, Eddie Henderson, Mel Martin, Benito Gonzalez, Denny Zeitlin, Juini Booth,Roy McCurdy(just added) Akira Tana, Ray Drummond,Kenneth Nash, Charles McPherson, Gary Bartz & lots more!!

Friday, July 7, 7:00 pm

Kuumbwa Jazz Center
320 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz
831-427-2227
Tickets: $30/35

Saturday, July 8, 2:00 pm

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
311 Mirada Drive, Half Moon Bay
650-726-4143
Advance: Adults $45/35, Students $25 (25 & under with ID)
Door: Adults $50, Students $30

Saturday, July 8, 7:00-11:00 pm

Pier 23 Cafe
On the Embarcadero at the foot of Greenwich, San Francisco
415-362-5125
No advance tickets / $10 cover charge

***************************************************************************

Barkan has assembled a “heavyweight contending” lineup for our listening pleasure. Also, its sure to offer tons of surprises from musicians & friends from over the years. Be There!!

In our series on Keystone Klippins’ – a snapshot into the thoughts and ideas of some of the “Cats” that played the “Korner” over the years and back to help celebrate the 45th anniversary with Todd and Friends. Coming Next!! Wednesday June 21, Saxophonist Mel Martin and Bassist, Juini Booth.

Charles Mcpherson – alto sax /composer/husband/dad

One of my most challenging conversations because of the time restraints. I wanted so many questions answered and so little time. I was able to find out some “nuggets for the real jazz fans. such as, I did not know he went to high school with Roy Brooks and they played in his first jazz band together. Also, Brooks was a star athlete, especially basketball. Living and growing up in Detroit, you are bound to bump into or come up against some of the “most superb” musicians in the world. Sure enough, he played with a guy known as the Charlie Parker of the bass in Detroit. Non-other than James Jamerson of Motown fame.. Yes! he was a jazz bassist too. I was a student of the saxophone at the time I learned about Charlie Parker in early 1960s, My guys on alto at the time was Bird, Jackie Mclean, Cannonball and Charles Mcpherson(I called him that guy with Mingus band not Dolphy). He always looked so cool playing with Mingus and the rest of the band.. He was built for Mingus…kind of like Charlie Rouse was built for Monk. He was his own man not a Bird clone.

Another jazz hero of mine was Barry Harris, (pianist with Lee Morgan on the Sidewinder) Lee Morgan’s record introduced me to the bop sound of Harris, which led me to the records by Harris including Charles McPherson on Saxophones.

I asked Charles about, what it was like playing the Keystone Korner in the day? Mcpherson:” Man it was a delight playing there. Todd was a REAL JAZZ FAN, not just an owner. We had fun there always over the years and I wound up the very last booked act at the Keystone in 1983″.  “my most memorable times was the Two- Biller Allstar bands with split sets. Man! Nobody was doing with jazz what Todd was doing to pack in the true jazz fans,added McPherson. Tony Williams – Barry Harris double bills!”

“I’m really looking forward to hooking up with cats I haven’t seen in a few and having that spirit of the old Keystone Korner days.”

A teenage friend of this writer who was studying saxophone also turned me on to this album in 1965.. a stellar lineup of great musicians . I still enjoy putting this one on.

Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri and moved to Detroit at age nine. After growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19.  He moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 and performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), and George Coleman (tenor sax).

Charles McPherson was recently featured at Lincoln Center showcasing his original compositions and arrangements with a seven-piece ensemble. He has toured the U.S., Europe, Japan, Africa and South America with his own groups, as well as with jazz greats Barry Harris, Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderley, Jay McShann, Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others.

Over the years Charles has travelled as special guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. He has recorded as leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, and most recently Arabesque. His most recent recording is the highly acclaimed “Manhattan Nocturne.”

Charles was also the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film “Bird,” a biography about Charlie Parker.

McPherson remains a strong, viable force on the jazz scene today. He is at the height of his powers. His playing combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation.

For more information and news of his collaboration with the San Diego Ballet featuring his daughter (see link below)

http://www.charlesmcpherson.com

Charles & Camille McPherson (daughter)

 

COMING JULY 2017 TODD BARKAN KEYSTONE KORNER 45TH ANNIVERSARY


JOIN TODD BARKAN & FRIENDS at

KEYSTONE KORNER 45th ANNIVERSARY

A Celebration of the North Beach Jazz venue in San Francisco

(Established July 7 1972)

Three Exciting Dates of Electrifying Music for You

July 7th 2017 – KUUMBWA JAZZ CENTER  7pm- Santa Cruz,CA.

July 8th 2017 – BACH DANCING & DYNAMITE SOCIETY – 2pm HALF MOON BAY,CA.

July 8th 2017 – PIER 23 on the EMBARCADERO -7pm            San Francisco, CA.

The action gets started with legendary artists performing

Charles McPherson..Gary Bartz.. Azar Lawrence.. Eddie Henderson.. Mel Martin.. Ray Drummond.. Kenneth Nash.. Benito Gonzalez.. Denny  Zeitlin & quite a few Surprises  &          BRIGHT MOMENTS!!

MORE INFORMATION and DETAILS Follow Hipster Sanctuary E-zine’s coverage and backstories in the coming weeks…#@blues2jazzguy

Coming soon in coming weeks Interviews with Mel Martin, Chuck McPherson , Azar Lawrence and others..

REMEMBERING FREDERICK DEWAYNE HUBBARD: “HUBB”


written by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

As this writer was trying to decide on subjects and artists to write about during Jazz appreciation month, “Hubb”, BKA Freddie Hubbard, came into my mind.

It’s not easy to write about an eclectic figure like Frederick Dewayne Hubbard. So I’m just going to go against all traditional musings about Hubbard, as viewed by the “jazz-elite”press corps.

I’m more inclined with the hip-crowd of admirers and fans that marvel over the fire, passion and gymnastics. He had all that going for him, that flowed from his body like sweat on a star athlete having a two-hundred rushing yards day, or a 50 point basketball night.

I was first introduced to “Freddie” on Herbie Hancock’s fourth album on Blue Note, Empyrean Isles,1964. At the time I was studying music and saxophone in junior high. First,  I was drawn into the groove of Cantaloupe Island, but, as I listened more to the whole album, I became impressed with the trumpeter.

He didn’t sound like any of the other trumpeters of the era I had been listening to,like Miles, Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Dizzy or Clark Terry. It was Hubbard’s dexterity and mastery of his horn, plus the “swag” and POWER! To coin another sports phrase Freddie was like a Power back among a field of average running backs, He just hit a little harder than the others. Man.. those “runs” and glass-shattering high notes that seem to flow so easily from Hubb.

I had not even seen Freddie live yet until early 1967. He was touring with a concept co-op band called the Jazz Communicators that included Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Kenny Barron, and Mr. straight-ahead himself, Louis Hayes.

One day while lunching at school a few of the cats from the school jazz band and myself agreed to catch this group over the weekend. since they were appearing at the famous Lighthouse Jazz café in Hermosa Beach, a local venue inside the metro los Angeles area. We were so anxious, or, I was at least…I could hardly get through the week doing my homework and band practice.

Friday finally arrived , and we got such an early start ,we were the first ones to arrive at the club as only the workers were coming to punch-in for work that night . The anticipation of the frontline was just overwhelming to us. Wow ! Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. We decided to walk around to kill some time , one of the guys brought a joint that was rather poorly rolled in wheat straw papers and looked pregnant. (Lol) so, we veered down to the far end of the Pier, away from prying-eyes. The five of us proceeded to enjoy the libations, though it was quite comical in our inexperience in these type matters.. the real comedy came as we began to experience the mini-explosions of burning seeds and stems as we laughed uncontrollably until we finished it. Then walking back to the front door , we were met by the ever-smiling Bassist/Manager, Howard Rumsey. He just said as we came in, “You Cats know the rules ,so enjoy yourselves.. We took our up close seats” and ordered our “soft Cokes,” with strange assortments of cherries, limes and oranges garnishing the glass . that made us feel like we were fitting-in with the very hip and rather chatty crowd. Without any further delay, Howard came over  the loudspeaker, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Jazz Communicators!”

Bam!. Right out the gate Freddie Hubbard kicked off a Jazz Messengers favorite and, Hubbard’s standard, “Crisis”. I don’t know what its like to ride a bull in a rodeo, but I do know what its like to punch a super-charged Corvette Sting-Ray for the first time.. Zero to 60 in a matter of a few seconds. with my heart and my “stones” jumping out of my body. That’s what it was like with Freddie and Joe opening with a slightly faster version of Crisis. He played, I listened to his very powerful playing up-close and personal. He took at least six courses. OMG!! I had no idea.

The Power, the flow of ideas, trills ,choke notes Highs-lows ascending-descending, those long lung-busting phrases. Oh yeah, those little counter-melodies and rich harmonics,chock full of surprise quotes from classic tunes fused in-between, the sinewy side-bar lines Freddie is known for as a signature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Henderson’s solo was no less electrifying as only Joe could do. Quick power phrases, built on Flat fives and 9s..squawks,growls followed by machine gun like notes pouring out of his horn, riding the rhythm and comping by Louis Hayes and a young Kenny Barron. All held together by the “glue” of bassist Herbie Lewis.

I had seen lots of groups  come to the lighthouse ,but this was a special night. Unbelievable on many levels to this writer. First, The group kept elevating, We stayed from the first to the last set and there were no “Let-Ups” in intensity. Second..I never forgot that evening’s performances. Third, Here it is now 50 years later, and I’m still remembering it as if it was only yesterday.

A couple of us guys that’s still here often reflect on that evening’s fun and camaraderie.. But, the artistry of Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson,Kenny Barron, Herbie Lewis and Louis Hayes still DISTRIBUTE GOOD THOUGHTS IN GREAT TIMES, IN OUR HEADS.

July 2003, I was producer/MC for a Jazz series in San Francisco-Knob Hill  project called “Celebrate a Legend-Jazz In July” a month long 7 days a week series featuring Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Coles, Vanessa Rubin, Doug Carn, Sonny Fortune, Andy Bey, Calvin Keyes, to name a few.  All participating and receiving lifetime achievement awards. We brought in Freddie special for five days, even surprising Freddie with an old friend in Billy Paul making an cameo performance of the “Old folk”. During the course of the five days , I had my hands full with “Hubb just being Hubb”.. some of you will know what I mean..(smile)  But at the end of the day, I felt blessed from the thought of coming from a 15 year old kid in a school band practice room, trying to understand all of what was happening on the “Night of the Cookers” album. Then, flash forwarded to 2003, and i’m now booking and presenting Freddie Hubbard to a hip and sophisticated San Francisco audience. a real dream deferred!  P-baron

Freddie Hubbard was many things to many people including a husband, a father, and a human being with warts and all that comes with that too. Most importantly, he had the respect of his family, friends and fans alike. Certainly mine. I miss Hubb on the scene with all his swag, panache with that biting humor of his.

Its with all due respect I am remembering, Federick Dwayne Hubbard, April 7 1938 – December 29 2008