everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!
This is a remarkable and often overlooked album by one of the finest and most innovative trumpet players of the ’60s and ’70s. Steeped deeply in funk, Hubbard brings his bright tone and evocative, mercurial playing to the post-Bitches Brew soundscape of electrified instruments, Latin percussion, complex polyrhythms, and “free” blowing focused on texture and atmosphere. Straight Life charts waters different from Davis’ masterpiece, however. Whereas Bitches Brew is a dark, ominous journey into a jungle of rhythm clusters and tonal coloring, Hubbard’s work is sparer, cleaner, and characterized by catchy, almost pop-like themes.
Straight Life is much more than a mere groove-fest, though, as the top-notch players (including Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and a young George Benson on guitar) unfurl formidable chops and vibrant backing throughout. The first two tracks, Hubbard’s title track and Weldon Irvine’s “Mr. Clean,” are lengthy, soulful workouts whose propulsive qualities and buoyancy are contrasted by the third track, the artist’s delicate and gorgeous flugelhorn treatment of “Here’s That Rainy Day.” Taken together, the cuts on Straight Life are musically sophisticated, stirring, and eminently groovy, making this “soul-jazz” of the highest order.
Personnel: Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn); Joe Henderson (saxophone); Herbie Hancock (piano); George Benson (guitar); Ron Carter (bass); Jack DeJohnette (drums); Weldon Irvine (tambourine); Richie Landrum (percussion).
Rappamelo’s favorite track: