Personnel: Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Bernard McKinney (euphonium); McCoy Tyner (piano); Art Davis (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 21, 1961. Includes liner notes Nat Hentoff and Bob Blumenthal.
This is part of the Blue Note's RVG series.
Of all the talented young trumpeters to emerge in the late 1950s, few were gifted with the astonishing technical aptitude of Indianapolis native Freddie Hubbard. Whereas friend, contemporary and erstwhile rival Lee Morgan seemed to reflect the braggadocio of Dizzy Gillespie, Hubbard was more in tune with the supple airborne phrasing of Clifford Brown, which is why drummer Art Blakey brought Hubbard into the Jazz Messengers to supersede Morgan--figuring he would prove a less dominating foil for the emerging talents of tenor saxophonist and musical director, Wayne Shorter.
Not that Hubbard lacked fire. It's just that his harmonic sensibility and chops were so refined, he was able to approximate the fluidity of a saxophonist--which is why the young virtuoso got the nod for special projects by Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. The latter's shadow looms prominently over the proceedings on READY FOR FREDDIE, Hubbard's fourth and most compelling date as a leader: Wayne Shorter is still discovering his own way through Coltrane-ish phrases and harmonic devices, Bernard McKinney's euphonium provides a stark contrasting timbre, while the rhythm section from OLE COLTRANE confers a supple, shifting groove to the proceedings.
Hubbard distinguishes himself both as improviser and composer. The jagged harmonic contrasts that announce "Arietis" segue into a bright groove, as the trumpeter unwinds complex, unhurried lines against pianist McCoy Tyner's varied comp and the big loose beat of Art Davis and Elvin Jones. On "Weaver Of Dreams," Hubbard displays a lithe, rounded attack, making confident musical use of trills and double-time syncopations over Jones' cat-like brushes. Shorter's "Marie Antoinette" is a radiant, upbeat theme that inspires rollicking tenor and trumpet solos, while Hubbard's "Birdlike" offers the challenge of a wildly syncopated theme and driving rhythm changes, which the trumpeter meets with bold, urgent lines and boppish accents. And the dancing Afro-Cuban vamp, fervent tag-line and swinging release of Hubbard's "Crisis" showcases each soloist at an imaginative peak.
JazzTimes (2/96, p.84) - "...a showcase for Hubbard's most refined writing and arranging, as the trumpeter transcends his remarkable technique to maintain a steely melodic focus..."