This well-recorded outing (which has been reissued on CD by Drive Archive) was trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's first worthwhile studio recording (with the exception of Super Blue) since the mid-'70s. Essentially a bebop date, Hubbard is teamed with a sextet comprised of altoist Richie Cole, trombonist Ashley Alexander, pianist George Cables, bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer John Dentz; altoist Med Flory sits in on "Byrdlike." Hubbard shows on such standards as "Shaw Nuff," "Star Eyes" and "Lover Man" that he could still play straightahead jazz with the best of them, Alexander is featured on "Stella by Starlight" and Cole is also in excellent form.
This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
Jazz funk genius from Freddie Hubbard in the mid 70s! Gleam was a Japanese-only double album from the jazz giant in its original release – mighty funky at times, too – right up there with some of the best Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock Japanese sets from the 70s! It's a live set captured in March of '75 at Tokyo's Yubin Chokin Hall – long numbers played by a group that includes Freddie on trumpet, Carl Randall on tenor and flute, George Cables on electric piano, Henry Franklin on bass, Carl Burnett on drums, and Buck Clark on percussion! Each player has plenty of space to groove, and it's very well captured – you can hear the most expressive solos and the most subtle nuances.
Freddie Hubbard's Super Blue, finally available on CD, is a minor classic—overlooked, perhaps, because it lies in the long shadow of the titan trumpeter's earlier output, or because it was recorded in the middle of a lackluster phase at Columbia. But Blue is a late-summer sleeper. Reassembling some of the best talent from his CTI dates—Joe Henderson (tenor), Hubert Laws (flute), Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and George Benson (guitar), plus Kenny Barron (acoustic and electric keyboards), a jam-mate from Hubbard's groups of the later 1960s—the session proves that commercial accessibility can coexist with high artistic standards.