Altoist Jackie McLean made loads of great records for Blue Note in the 1960s, and this is one I come back to time and again. Three of the four long tracks are uptempo, adventurous yet melodic modal-leaning hard bop, all of which feature excellent arrangements and KILLER solos by a band that includes Larry Willis (piano), Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Clifford Jarvis (drums). But the highlight is the ballad “Poor Eric” (written for Eric Dolphy who had recently passed away), which has an atmosphere that takes over the room—reflective, melancholic, and achingly beautiful. Give “Poor Eric” a listen and I’m pretty confident it will find a place on whatever playlist holds your favorite ballads. While listening ‘Right Now!’ this morning over coffee, two enthusiastic thumbs up were delivered from my wife—the equivalent to a jazz Michelin Star. Jackie McLean has a reputation for a somewhat sharp tone and freer structures (see his incredible and essential ‘Destination Out!’ album, for example), but ‘Right Now!’ eschews those elements and the more straightforward approach with this quartet works marvelously. This is a GREAT jazz record that has a lot to offer—highly recommended. And dig that Reid Miles LP jacket! This is a 2015 Music Matters 33RPM reissue MMBST-84215, stereo. Originally recorded 29 Jan 1965 and issued in 1966
Dateline: 10 Oct 1962. 24-year-old Freddie Hubbard had already put a jaw-dropping number of points on the board. He’d joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the wake of Lee Morgan’s departure, working the frontline on the bandstand alongside Wayne Shorter. Hubbard had already recorded with John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Oliver Nelson, Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, and Duke Pearson. He’d led over a half dozen sessions himself, absorbing influences from his peers and mentors into both his writing and his playing. So he was well-primed to knock it out of the park at this session, and he did so with style. Leading a quintet that featured Herbie Hancock-piano, James Spaulding-alto sax/flute, Reggie Workman-bass, and Clifford Jarvis-drums, Hubbard navigates the hard-bop highway with finesse on the uptempo numbers and sensitivity on the ballads. ‘Hub-Tones’ contains a couple of Hubbard’s most excellent originals, including the title track, as well as the beautiful “Lament for Booker” (written for his close friend Booker Little). It’s hard to go wrong with any of Hubbard’s run of albums on Blue Note—they’re all high quality, but I’m partial to this one for three reasons:
1. ”Lament for Booker”—this tune just kills me.
2. I love the way this album sounds—the Notorious RVG was having a great day in the studio, and the sonic assassins at Music Matters must have sprinkled some extra sonic fairy dust on this one to make it leap from the speakers so strikingly.
3. The striking artwork never ceases to amaze. ‘Hub-Tones’ has one of my favorite—and most iconic—Reid Miles Blue Note LP jackets ever.
There’s a lot to love about this record—think I’ll spin it again