Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review: Freddie Hubbard - Polar AC

An unexceptional recording by trumpeter extraordinaire Freddie Hubbard, especially given his immediately previous high quality output, it’s one of the entry efforts to his career brown patch that would unfortunately last for pretty much most of the rest of the decade.

A strong band has little to do with the middling pieces chosen, but none-the-less Hubert Laws’ flute and George Benson’s guitar blend seamlessly and create a good interplay. The soloing from both men and Junior Cook’s saxophone too is impeccable, but sadly the rest of the band are pretty much uninvolved and struggle to rise above the material.

Some grand over-production, typical of this period in CTI’s history, too drags the album down, with the obvious exceptions of ironically the title track, and ‘Son Of Sky Dive’. These two numbers sound alive and beat with a pulse that is clearly lacking from the rest of the album, so much so in fact that you suspect that maybe these two were recorded or produced at a separate session.

Freddie still soars high on his trumpet, but he’s clearly either uninspired or low on ideas throughout. For every half-decent moment there’s an equally lost-at-sea solo that leaves him sounding confused and unfocused. But like the album as a whole there is little that is actively unlikeable, just not much in the way of anything eventful or memorable. After the sheer musical highpoints of his opening CTI salvo, including ‘Red Clay’ and ‘Straight Life’, this is very much the sound of Freddie Hubbard coasting.


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