Selection: Sunflower (Hubbard)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn) Milt Jackson (vibes) Herbie Hancock (piano) Jay Berliner (guitar) Ron Carter (bass) Billy Cobham (drums)
Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor) : Romeo Penque (alto flute, English horn, oboe) Phil Bodner (flute, alto flute, piccolo, English horn) George Marge (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto flute, English horn) Max Ellen, Paul Gershman, Emanuel Green, Charles Libove, Joe Malin, David Nadien, Gene Orloff, Elliot Rosoff, Irving Spice (violin) Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Alan Shulman (cello) Margaret Ross (harp) Ralph MacDonald (percussion)
Recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 12 & 13, 1972
Creed Taylor’s CTI is not a label I have followed, but after a few encouraging encounters with early 1970’s Hubbard titles, I decided to take the plunge. It is not all good, but it is good enough and has a lot to offer, at least selectively
The formula with Creed Taylor’s early 70’s CTI is a core group of familiar artists such as Hubbard, Hancock, Carter, a smattering of new kids on the block, Billy Cobham fusion drummer or up and coming Jack DeJohnette . Some titles introducing electric guitarists like George Benson (good, not yet Mr Smooth Jazz) and Joe Beck (clumsy fusion rock to my ear, which has not worn at all well) Later, funk became more predominant, like Deodata, and a plague of flautists, but the transition to the early ’70s is a good journey.
Sunflower may claim to be a Milt Jackson album, but trust me, it’s a Freddie Hubbard album. Freddie and Herbie dominate the charts, while Milt Jackson moves away from the sparse chamber-jazz MJQ vibe to integrate with the new decade players, much more in the Bobby Hutcherson manner, colouring and accompanying.
Herbie flips between acoustic piano to electric piano, confirming acoustic is the keyboard of choice, where he sparkles. Carter seems mostly electric bass, but it flows well. Hubbard is the saviour. Warm, vibrant fat tone, vulnerable tremulous vibrato, leading the melodic lines over Milt Jackson’s shimmering vibes, a delight.
Billy Cobham is an exciting addition to the roster of jazz/fusion drummers, well acquitting himself on this title. I recall seeing him live in London in the early ’70s. Opening to a darkened stage , spots suddenly pierced through his double bass drums, illuminating the auditorium. A mounting thunderous crescendo built up, rolls across tuned tom toms, cross-rhythms, cymbal crashes, exploding into the opening bars of the first number. Phew! Throughout the set he maintained the momentum, not so much swinging as Blakey, but a more muscular, always there, pushing, accents, fills and rolls in any spaces.
Creed Taylor’s partner in crime, arranger Don Sebesky, adds a stimulus package for the employment of string and woodwind players – violins, cellos, harp, clarinet, piccolo, oboe, french horn, anything you can blow or pluck (no Weinstein jokes, please) .The orchestral arrangements add a bit of texture in the background, in no way as intrusive as I feared, and could have been omitted completely with little detriment to the music, but that is how it comes. Any piccolo players out there feeling slighted, I apologize. For the size of your flute.
Vinyl: CTI 6024 VAN GELDER
How Rudy got the massed Sebesky orchestra into Englewood Cliffs, who knows. Perhaps the core instrumental front line was recorded one session, the massed blowers and string pluckers dubbed on after the event. Since their part was scored, no spontaneous improvisation required, we are getting close to elevator music, or Hollywood’s cloying Antony and Cleopatra schmaltz. Still, it sounds good overall, and the stereo breathes well on its soundstage.
Cover Design : Pete Turner, photographer, born 1934 died September 18, 2017.
A selection of striking Turner covers for Impulse, Verve, CTI , no doubt others, a lustrous laminate sheen, deep blacks and chiaroscuro lighting, some with eye-catching, umm, eyes. Hubbard, Tjader, Farrell, Nelson, Jackson, Desmond, all the zeitgeist of the early ’70s.
Song title: People Make The World Go Round. What makes the world go around? Certainly not people, nor love, nor money. It is gravitational momentum. Until such time as some force affects it to slow or accelerate, the world spins on its axis, because it always has.
There are a lot of CTI’s to explore. Some will come up again shortly for sure. I’ve just dipped my toe in – any favourites, recommendations welcome.
What Happened? This Post was fired off prematurely before it was finalised, apologies. We all make mistakes, that is why they put rubber on the end of pencils. I put it down to a very liquid Sunday family lunch. It might have been the couple of bottles of Veneto Chardonnay, or the Irish Coffee to finish or the complementary limoncello, that did it, possibly all three.