Tuesday, December 1, 2015

open sesame

Freddie Hubbard made his fierce and fluid opening salvo as a bandleader with this magical mélange of hard bop and latin swing.   He grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana where he worked with Wes and Monk Montgomery.  When he relocated to New York at the age of twenty, he played with jazz luminaries like Cannonball Adderley, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Slide Hampton, J. J. Johnson, Philly Joe Jones, Quincy Jones, Hank Mobley, Wes Montgomery, and Sonny Rollins.

Hubbard would express:   “Imagine me, a kid, with those giants.  I could hardly play for listening. They’d start and—whoosh—they’d be gone. I’d say, ‘How’d you do that? How’d you come up with that?’ Then I figured out that they did it by listening to the guys before them. A lot of what Sonny and 'Trane were playing was no different than what Lester Young played; they just played with more intensity...I started practicing with tenor players.  I’d hear what Rollins and Trane would do, and their passages were so involved, so hip, that I figured it’d make me sound different. But passages that come naturally to a saxophonist don’t come easy to a trumpeter. You need a lot of elasticity, because your embouchure is so different than a tenor player’s...You can’t play a trumpet as long as you can a tenor, because the mouthpiece is against your lips while the tenor’s mouthpiece is inside your lips. If you’re going to play lots of choruses like Trane and Sonny, you have to be really strong. When I practiced with Sonny, he’d have me lift weights to build up my strength...Most trumpeters back then had a pinched sound, like tee-tee-tee, but Clifford Brown had an open sound, more like doo-doo-doo. It’s harder to control an open sound than a pinched sound, so most trumpeters avoid it, but I had played tuba, French horn and E-flat mellophone in school, and I was used to a larger mouthpiece. You have to blow a certain way to get that sound, but I figured it out. It’s difficult to control when you open up that wide, but if you can, you sound like no one else."

He signed with Blue Note Records and recorded 'Open Sesame' with producer Alfred Lion at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey during June of 1960 at the ripe age of twenty-two.    The session featured  Freddie Hubbard on trumpet;   Tina Brooks on tenor saxophone;   McCoy Tyner on piano;  Sam Jones on bass;  and  Clifford Jarvis on drums.  

Hubbard looks back:   "During that period I was changing the style of the trumpet. I was trying to play the trumpet like a saxophone. I was playing more intervals. And I was trying to make those long glissandos. Trumpet players don't do that."


"Open Sesame"

 'Open Sesame' 
full album:

side one
"Open Sesame" (Brooks) - 7:11
"But Beautiful" (Burke, Van Heusen) - 6:26
"Gypsy Blue" (Brooks) - 6:28

side two
"All or Nothing at All" (Altman, Lawrence) - 5:36
"One Mint Julep" (Toombs) - 6:04
"Hub's Nub" (Hubbard) - 6:51

bonus tracks
"Open Sesame" [alternate take] (Brooks) - 7:16 
"Gypsy Blue" [alternate take] (Brooks) - 7:35

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