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FREDDIE HUBBARD - Straight Life cover
4.22 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1971

Filed under Post Bop


A Straight Life 17:30
B1 Mr. Clean 13:30
B2 Here's That Rainy Day 5:10

Total Time: 36:24


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).

About this release

CTI Records ‎– CTI 6007 (US)

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, November 16, 1970

Thanks to snobb, JS, dreadpirateroberts for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

In some ways this is Freddie's hardest hitting album.

On the title track, the more obvious funk from his previous album, 'Red Clay' is stripped back into a hard and post bop workout that barrels along. It's full of blasting solos from both Hubbard and Henderson, with DeJohnette working like a demon on the kit for almost the entire seventeen plus minutes. In 'Straight Life' Hancock is given a long solo on electric piano, before making way for Benson and eventually, a return to the main theme.

'Mr Clean' is next, and it starts off a little more funky but has the same feel as 'Straight Life' with its faster solos and hard hitting playing nearly all round. A gentle middle section that begins around Hancock's solo is brief, then the ante is raised again. While still maintaining an intensity, with a little more in the way of shifts throughout this piece, this is the stand out.

Just trumpet and guitar close the record on 'Here's that Rainy Day' and Hubbard foreshadows his later soloing on follow up 'First Light.' While the song is pleasant enough, it doesn't match similar work on 'First Light' though it is the moment where Benson is most prominent, not always all that present in the mix during the opening two tracks.

One thing to note is just how impressive DeJohnette is across the album, he's a bit of a whirlwind, keeping the beat and working his fills in and around the soloists with great dexterity.

Four stars for me - if you're a Hubbard fan then this album is highly recommended, not just as a step between 'Red Clay' and 'First Light' but as a powerhouse on its own.

Members reviews

One of the best jazz albums of the 1970s.

The lineup alone should tell you this is a classic album. Some excellent performances from everyone. The music is mostly post-bop with hints of jazz-fusion from Herbie Hancock's electric piano and George Benson's electric guitar. Big, long improvisations is the name of the game, as was somewhat common among many of the great jazz artists around this time in the early 1970s.

Freddie Hubbard sounds absolutely inspired on this record, blowing some wild and furious horn lines on top of the funky rhythms, as well as Hancock, as usual.

The cover of the Statue of Liberty gives this album an identity of that with New York City, and this album does bring to mind being there, as it has that vibe, not unlike some of Miles Davis' albums. Speaking of Miles, any fan of his during his mid-late 60s era, as well as the 70s era, should stop reading this review and get this album. In fact, many of Freddie's albums feature Miles alumni, so you can't go wrong with Freddie Hubbard.

If you're looking for jazz from the 1970s that's more jazz than fusion, this album is a great place to start.
Sean Trane
As he had done with the previous Red Clay, Hubbard chose to pursue in the JR/F mould, using a very similar formation centred around Herbie, Ron, and Joe Henderson, but replacing Lenny with DeJohnette and two percussion players. And indeed the FH band picks up where it left off in the previous Red Clay album and SL is very much a JR/F affair. SL features another red-looking artwork, that kind of hints at the previous album’s continuity, but the boppy nature of the music of RC is nearly totally absorbed in the funk-rock of the present.

Just three track on this red-hot fusion thing, with the sidelong title track occupying the whole A-side. Indeed, with this 17-mins+ energy-filled monster track, we’re definitely up Bitches Brew (despite the liner notes) or Ethiopian Knight’s alley, if you’ll notice that Benson’s Montgomery influences replaces McL’s fiery pyro-techniques. On the flipside, Mr Clean’s 12 minutes of insane JR/F will surely cleanse your tripe’s inner from stuffy and dusty old bop stuff. Hubbard’s trumpet has the same kind of bite as Donald Byrd in the equivalent album, but none chose to add pedal effects that made Miles’ sound so unique. We’re again closer to BB than we are to Mwandishi or Weather Report’s early albums here. The shorter Rainy Day track is a relatively out-of-context slow sleepy middle-of-the-night jazz piece, which doesn’t do the album a favour.

While SL is typically the kind of fusion-y album I love, I must put a bit of a damper, because of the general short duration, but also some of the aimless soloing around. I can’t help but feeling that albums such as SL or Byrd’s Ethiopian Knights should have at least one more 7 or 8 minutes track aside, not just for the sake of value for money, but in terms of a more complete sonic-capture. Indeed, we’re kind of still hungry after EK or SL, something we’re not after BB, Crossings or Body Electric.

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  • MoogHead
  • Fant0mas
  • KK58
  • Steve Wyzard
  • idlero
  • Reg
  • richby
  • fido73
  • Anster
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • Hawkwise
  • zorn1

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