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Freddie Hubbard: Above & Beyond

This 1982 live recording, captured at San Francisco’s late, lamented Keystone Korner, finds Freddie Hubbard in peak form-which makes his loss from the current scene due to health issues even harder to take. Just when he should be at the peak of his creative powers and smelling all due roses, Hubbard has been largely absent. And hearing him on this label debut disc from Metropolitan makes his absence all the more acute. When healthy and in peak form, Freddie Hubbard is one of the trumpet immortals. “Thrilling” and “peak form” are two of the things that come to mind when listening to this gem.

Although not recorded under optimum fidelity conditions, nonetheless Hubbard’s burning intensity, delivered by that big, beautiful, buttery tone is damn near magnificent. Working as a quartet (as the story goes, the fifth member, Joe Henderson, failed to make the gig) with the inventive Billy Childs on piano, Herbie Lewis on bass, and a hard-driving Louis Hayes at the traps, Hubbard burns his way through five extended pieces from his book that are guaranteed to leave you sweating, including the ever-beautiful “Little Sunflower,” which clocks in at 16:57.

Originally Published