Herewith then, this month's soul jazz playlist bookended by Jimmy Smith's groove.
The title track, a 20 minute affair, is what is says it is: a musical sermon. It's a relaxed affair, founded on an insistent back beat of the kind that Jamerson and co. would later pepper all of Motown with. It's not overbearing; the preacher is in his prime and knows what he's doing. It ebbs and flows as the message is delivered full-throated by the choir. The soloists let their hair down and the music builds up. It's an all-star cast on the church floor. The intent is to make people start yearning for the promised land. Exclamations and outbursts proliferate and everyone has ample opportunity to shine. The solos on the rest of the album are in the same vein, demonstrating to all and sundry that, with the Hammond organ on hand, there was no one quite like Jimmy Smith.
Mixed in with shaking works like Nice 'n' Greasy and Funky Mama are fluid and inventive approaches to old standards by Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Lou Donaldson is a wonderful musician full of humour and here everything flows easily as befits a natural soul.
Stanley Turrentine's artful saxophone and lazy organ courtesy of Shirley Scott makes for heavenly jazz. For those late nights...
This is the closest to staightforward hard bop as you'll get from this playlist. But the sounds of this album speak to that transcendant "feel" that is soul. It's not a blowing session but the musicians are in a playful mood. All the ingredients combine and the core of the genre is plainly evident.
Earlier albums like Hub Tones were about displaying the fireworks and technical mastery of his instrument that put him in the league of the best jazz trumpeters of all time. Ready for Freddie is Hubbard's most cohesive album and shows his virtues as a band leader and composer. Those who think that Miles Davis was the end-all on the trumpet need to consider the likes of Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown or Donald Byrd and, on the evidence of this album, Freddie Hubbard. Trading with Wayne Shorter on tenor sax and rythymn section of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Art Davis, this is a portrait of a band in full. A decade later, firmly established as an all-star, he could go on to the much-beloved Red Clay. But in the music of this moment, the world was ready for him and Freddie was a monster.