One disc 73 minutes in length approximately. The sound is warm yet clean and crisp. From the low register of the bass,to the upper reaches of the horns and vibraphone,each instrument has a clearly defined space and is heard easily. This is especially gratifying since this is a live recording from 1981,at Keystone Korner,in San Francisco. The notes set the scene for the nights set,with a bit of background on Hubbard. This is the second (recorded digitally and on analog tape) volume of music from this group,the other taken from Sunday night's set This recording,due to recording (balance) problems,is a digital mix of the analog tapes,so the engineers had to work diligently in order for the sound to be the same as the Sunday night (digital) recording.
The band is comprised of,besides Hubbard-trumpet and flugelhorn,Joe Henderson-tenor sax,Bobby Hutcherson-vibes,Billy Childs-piano,Larry Klein-bass,and Steve Houghton-drums. At the time the rhythm section was comprised of relatively unknown players,who,at this late date,have become more well known in jazz circles. Suffice to say these three musicians laid down a foundation for the three soloists to do their thing. And while the rhythm section stayed primarily in the background,when one of them did come out front for a solo,the caliber of playing fit seamlessly with the major players. All the tracks are by Hubbard,with the exception of "'Round Midnight".
The first track,"One of Another Kind" is a vehicle for the group that lets the listener know what they're in for ahead. All the musicians weave in and out of each other without stepping on anyone else,on this medium tempo song. "'Round Midnight",starts off with a good Henderson solo,which segues into some fine piano work by the underrated Childs. Basically a slow/medium tempo,at times this track slows down for some gorgeous tenor sax,with the piano supporting throughout. But its primarily a showcase for Joe Henderson's immense talent on his horn. Hutcherson does not play on this track.
The third track,"Red Clay",needs no introduction. This Freddie Hubbard classic is well known by jazz listeners,and for good reason. The bouncy rhythm,the unison horns,and the band solidly pushing things ahead,makes this a highlight (with a fine bass solo) of this set. Arguably after the original album "Red Clay" by Hubbard,he went in another direction (jazz fusion/jazz lite) and lost a lot of followers who liked his initial (Open Sesame","Hub-Tones") sound. This track,while firmly rooted in jazz,has the slightest feel of the more commercial sound Hubbard would use for a number of years. Thankfully he decided to return to a more jazz style,and this track is played with great enthusiasm and feeling by both Hubbard and the group.
The final track (and one of the longest-around 20 minutes) "First Light", is also from the later era when Hubbard began to go into the above mentioned direction. However,here,this composition is given a fine straight ahead jazz reading by the group. Hubbard's horn playing starts things off very stately,and then the band comes in with a slightly faster tempo. This track alone is proof positive of the caliber of playing on this album. Hubbard's horn plays stabbing notes over a solid back-beat,with the entire group coalescing around him for a truly exciting sound. Joe Henderson also gets a chance to shine,and his tone and note choices are first-rate. Once again,Larry Klein gets a chance to show his prowess on the bass with a fine,sensitive solo. The very fine (but underrated) Bobby Hutcherson has a very delicate solo that gives this track a real boost. His playing,while understated,is very fine throughout this set.
While the sound of this group is more modern than Hubbard's groups from the Blue Note records era,these recordings could sit alongside them with no problem. With a combination of first-rate musicians playing first-rate material,this set (and its companion) is proof that Freddie Hubbard had returned to his jazz roots. And with the help of such fine accompanists,this is some very good jazz. Give it a listen.