Believe it or not, there was once a time when you could hear live jazz of this caliber all across America seven nights a week. The year was 1980, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard remained as fearsome and invincible as in his early Blue Note Records and Art Blakey Sextet days two decades earlier. The setting was San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, where the 42-year old trumpeter’s sextet held forth in June and October, setting new standards in power and athleticism during each set.
There are seven performances on this previously unreleased live set, and Hubbard is positively combustible throughout. “Intrepid Fox” touts high notes, big-register skips and flurried runs; “First Light” features rifling phrases and rhythmic razzle-dazzle; “One of Another Kind” is highlighted by aggressive melodicism and a burning solo by tenorman Hadley Caliman; “Happiness Is Now” flaunts a jazz-rock groove and some one-chord jousting, with echoes of Miles Davis; “The Summer Knows” opens with a swaggering unaccompanied intro followed by brassy romanticism; “Blues for Duane” boasts glisses, more flurries and double-time cooking; and “Giant Steps” contains Trane quotes, blistering running of the changes and more fine Caliman.
Billy Childs (acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes) and Larry Klein (bass) are present on all, Eddie Marshall and Sinclair Lott alternate on drums, trombonist Phil Ranelin appears on six tracks and tenor saxophonists Caliman and David Schnitter play on three each. All finely bolster one of the greatest trumpeters who ever lived.