2018 Japanese reissue
The first album released posthumously after jazz legend Freddie Hubbard's passing in 2008, the recordings that make up Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969 actually sat in the Blue Note archives for 40 years. Recorded while Hubbard was touring Europe with producer Sonny Lester's The Jazz Wave on Tour revue, the album features performances culled from three separate nights -- two in England and one in Germany. While Hubbard had already released many of his most famous Blue Note solo albums by 1969, in truth the trumpeter had only started leading his own full-time touring band around 1966 after leaving Max Roach's ensemble.
In that sense, Without a Song showcases Hubbard in his technical and creative prime as one of the premiere virtuoso jazz trumpeters of his generation. Backing Hubbard here are pianist Roland Hanna, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Louis Hayes, all of whom except for Carter would appear on the trumpeter's 1971 studio effort Hub of Hubbard, which was also recorded while on this tour. Tackling a handful of standards and two originals in "Space Track" and "Hub-Tones," Hubbard and his band balance the music deftly on the cusp of swinging hard bop and the adventurous modal free-bop Hubbard would delve into by the early '70s.
While there are many fine live Hubbard recordings available, few are from this apex of his career. While that alone could put Without a Song near the top of the list of live Hubbard albums, ultimately it is the sheer brilliance of Hubbard's playing that makes this essential listening for any Hubbard fan. This is the Hubbard of jazz lore -- a golden god of the horn with an unceasingly inventive knack for both melodic simplicity and bold harmonic swagger.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar
|Brand||Blue Note Records Japan|
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