Freddie Hubbard – Pinnacle: Live & Unreleased From Keystone Korner ★★★★★

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Freddie HubbardResonance

Freddie Hubbard (t, flhn), Phil Ranelin (tb), Hedley Caliman, David Schnitter (ts), Billy Childs (p), Larry Klein (b), Eddie Marshall and Sinclair Lott (d). Rec. June and October 1980

With Lee Morgan long gone, Freddie Hubbard had nobody snapping at his heels, not even Miles who, a year after this 1980 date, told Hubbard to his face: “You may never realise it, but you are the baddest motherfucker on the planet right now.” Can’t argue with that. Taped a year earlier to the brace of ‘live’ albums Freddie recorded for Prestige at this very same venue, these previously unreleased great sounding performances find the hero of the hour and his band really piling on the pressure.

Hubbard always surrounded himself with the best available talent and there are no slackers in this extremely capable crew. Leading from the front with his familiar ‘The Intrepid Fox’, Fast Freddie meshes with Phil Ranelin (trombone) and David Schnitter – who alternates on tenor sax with Hadley Caliman – to concoct a fat, brassy post-Messengers sound full of natural dynamics, bright ideas, and, above all, genuine excitement. With diamond cut precision, they attack a programme mainly comprised of five Hubbard originals (that include ‘First Light’ ‘One Of Another Kind,’ ‘Blues For Duane’ etc) plus a spirited stab at ‘Trane’s ‘Giant Steps’. Switching, mid-session, to flugelhorn for Michel Legrand’s ‘The Summer Knows,’ the other horns drop out leaving Freddie and pianist Billy Childs to further impress. I can’t recommend this album more highly, save to say that three decades on the incandescence flame from these recordings still burns brightly.

– Roy Carr