‘Backlash’ was the first of Freddie Hubbard’s three albums for the Atlantic label, a brief interim musical period for the trumpeter, after leaving Blue Note in 1966, and before joining CTI for his soon-to-be commercial peak in 1970. And in truth it sits somewhere between the music of those two periods, his familiar style leaning much more towards his funk-inflected work of the seventies.
Funky riffs and grooves percolate the proceedings, with everything more measured than the comparatively free-form and experimental work of his later Blue Note sessions. The title track is a relaxed groover serving up some nice piano accompaniment and trumpet playing, along with ‘Little Sunflower’ and ‘Echoes Of Blue’, while ‘On The Que-Tee’ is more traditional faster-paced Hubbard fare that benefits from a brilliant standout theme. The icing on the cake though is an incredibly strong reading of ‘Up Jumped Spring’ that ranks as one of the best of anything Hubbard has ever recorded.
It’s an excellent set with a good band, with notably James Spaulding making a suitable foil for Hubbard with his alto sax and flute stylings, and Ray Barretto adding his nicely funky conga percussion throughout. For those interested in his commercial zenith work with CTI, this is a great indicator of what was to come, it being a significant stride away from his acoustic early Blue Note days. One of Hubbards sometimes more forgotten efforts, ‘Backlash’ really is actually one of his strongest.