Freddie Hubbard: Ready for Freddie (1961) Blue Note

Despite listing seventeen of Freddie titles at LJC, my favourite Blue Note trumpeter, Ready For Freddie was unintentionally overlooked, An omission no longer.

Selection: Areitis (Hubbard) – Youtube digital upload, vinyl rip to be added at later date, so you can compare  😉


Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Bernard McKinney, euphonium; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Art Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums. recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 21, 196, released April 1962.


A varied set including a ballad, fast-paced bop, avant-leaning fire and brimstone, and mainstream mid-tempo. Hubbard is a confident leader, letting others shine. The presence of Shorter is a particular feature of this album: Shorter is on fire, McCoy Tyner is smoking, Elvin Jones is incendiary, and Freddie is  smouldering. It must be the heat of a great session. Art Davis fast-walking bass adds controlled propulsion.

One unusual feature of this album is the contribution of Bernard McKinney’s  euphonium, though it appears only on three tracks, and is played more in the role of a trombone. The euphonium was the leading instrument in the tenor-bass range in military marching bands, where a double bass is impractical – a bass can walk, but it won’t easily march.

Euphonium is a quirky choice of instrument for jazz, like it’s cousin the tuba.  Mobley got away with it on his tune Cute ‘n’ Pretty in the album Slice of The Top. Euphonium and tuba  are structural to the melody and harmony, rather than an improvising front-line.This underappreciated album is among my favourites of all time. The euphonium  player credited there is Kiane Zawadi, who is of course one and the same person as  Bernard McKinney credited here. I figured as much, not an instrument many would take up. Replaying that great Mobley composition was a reminder how strong Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley paired up, as with Hubbard and Shorter here.

The young Coltrane had an early title with Ray Draper on Tuba, in the The Ray Draper Quintet, an album I have always avoided, imagining  strange sonorities. No doubt someone out there digs it.

I don’t think you need to choose between one Hubbard album and another, get them all, and fill the Hubbard cupboard.

Vinyl: BLP 4085 mono, NY labels, RVG, Plastylite.

Inner sleeve

The correct inner sleeve for first original release of 4085 (released  April 1962) is design 2, in use December 1961 – April 1962. This copy came paired with Inner Sleeve 4  (December 1962 – September 1963).

Collector’s Corner

The readies for Freddie top around a modest  $600.   As usual, mono is the format of choice.

Youtube has the full album,

Any Hubbard favourites? All of them?

And among Blue Note trumpet players, are you a Freddie person  or a Lee  person? ( What a question, LJC , how could you ask!)

LJC – no fear.

Howard Johnson, tuba, Gil Evans Orchestra play Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Chile

14 thoughts on “Freddie Hubbard: Ready for Freddie (1961) Blue Note

  1. Late entry on tuba players , try Howard Johnson doing Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Chile with the Gil Evans orchestra at Sweet Basil but keep your wine glasses locked away.

  2. Great selection. This title is included in the next batch of Blue Note Classic reissues, which is a continuation of the BN 80 reissue series. Kevin Grey remasters, all analogue, 180g pressings, single sleeve (non gf) covers, all for a modest price. I like this title and may purchase a reissue copy just to see how it compares to my NY stereo copy. I was introduced to Freddie on Art Blakey’s Ugetsu (Riverside live date c1963 from Birdland). He and Shorter are phenomenal on the title track.

  3. Just for the record: my copy is stereo version. The labels are both NY/NY. The inner is as the one you show.
    The stereo is acceptable. Freddie to the right , then Wayne on the left channel, drums left , McCoy in between, McKinney right .
    Gave it a spin. Did not listen to it since a long time. The album is of a constant high quality.
    My first encounter with Freddie was on Dolphy’s first album, “Outward Bound”. Thereafter, Booker Little was to overshadow Freddie. That is how I felt it then. In retrospect, Freddie has his rightful place in the line starting with Lee Morgan, Freddie, Booker to Don Cherry.

  4. I’m more of a Hubbard fan.
    The tuba has its place in modern jazz, although I suppose it was much more common during the days of Dixieland, ragtime, and early big band. An internet search of “jazz tuba players” turned up a wiki list of over 50 musicians, many apparently still active. I recognized Bob Stewart who played tuba in Author Blythe’s band (1970’s). Bob has recorded with a who’s-who of jazz musicians. He’s currently a professor at Juilliard.

  5. A young lad, barely 17 years old, playing this rhythm instrument as a solo horn. Audacious, result questionable. With Max he was integrated in the group, piano function for the tuba. Why not?
    His 2 albums with Trane, 1957 N.J., 1958 Jubilee: of course, a must for Coltrane ‘want to have it all’ collectors, but still the ensembles have a certain charm, also thanks to the selection of tunes. Ray’s Filidey, or something like that, is admirable.
    The tuba novelty phenomenon did not last, neither did the euphonium.
    The Lee vs Freddie question is more than indecent. I am sorry LJC to be rude….

  6. Ray Draper also played on Max Roach’s excellent “Deeds, Not Words,” which is built around the Max Roach + 4 ensemble that rose from the ashes of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet.

  7. I’m a Lee man, and a Freddie lover. My favourite Hubbard album is on Impulse, The artistry of .. with the amazing John Gilmore, Tommy Flanagan, Art Davis and Louis Hayes. and Curtis Fuller. I listened to the album so often that I can “sing” every note of it. Still love it, One of my most precious albums.

  8. Love Freddie’s “Hub Tones.” I love his work with Dexter Gordon, on “Go” and “Doin’ Allright”…. and on Hancock’s “Takin’ Off.” My fave trumpeter, but Lee is high on the list. Would take the Dexter and Hancock LPs to the desert island, in large part because of Hubbard’s and Gordon’s presence. Might be my three fave Blue Notes. “Hub Tones” might make my top 10 of Blue Notes…

  9. As much as Blue Note and the jazz execs of the time in general loved puns and turns of phrase, I can’t believe a “Cupboard of Hubbard” never became a title.

    And Lee all the way, but who doesn’t love Freddie?

  10. I’m a Lee guy, but Freddie Hubbard is amazing. Of course none of the Blue Note trumpet regulars were slouches: Byrd, Dorham, the underrated Blue Mitchell, etc.
    The euphonium is one of a few unusual tenor brass voices that works surprisingly well in a jazz ensemble. I went through a period where I sought out recordings with odd instruments used to play the straight-ahead, small group jazz I enjoy. Many of these are essentially non-trombones like McKinney’s euphonium, Cy Touff’s bass trumpet and Don Elliott’s mellophone as examples. The French horn’s sound is more distinctive, but it is among my least favorites, even when played by a skilled soloist like Julius Watkins. The tone, to me, sounds brittle and strained.
    I’ve listened to Ray Draper’s solos on the album with Coltrane just once, but am more familiar with his contributions on the Max Roach album Deeds Not Words. I think his tuba is a better fit on that latter recording instead of being impossibly matched against Coltrane’s tenor as one of two solo horn voices in an otherwise conventional set.

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