Pop/Art Song/Folk / Post Bop / Third Stream / Jazz Related Soundtracks • United States
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A talented flutist whose musical interest was never exclusively straight-ahead jazz, Hubert Laws exceeded Herbie Mann in popularity in the 1970s when he recorded for CTI. He was a member of the early Jazz Crusaders while in Texas (1954-1960) and he also played classical music during those years. In the 1960s, Laws made his first recordings as a leader (Atlantic dates from 1964-1966) and gigged with Mongo Santamaria, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, James Moody, and Clark Terry, among many others. His CTI recordings from the first half of the 1970s made Laws famous and were a high point, particularly compared to his generally wretched Columbia dates from the late '70s. He was less active in the 1980s, but has come back with a pair of fine Music Masters sessions in the 1990s. After those releases, a tribute to Nat King Cole arrived in 1998, followed four years later by a read more...
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HUBERT LAWS Discography

HUBERT LAWS albums / top albums

HUBERT LAWS The Laws of Jazz album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Laws of Jazz
Post Bop 1964
HUBERT LAWS Flute By Laws album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Flute By Laws
Post Bop 1966
HUBERT LAWS Laws' Cause album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Laws' Cause
Post Bop 1969
HUBERT LAWS Crying Song album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Crying Song
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1969
HUBERT LAWS Afro-Classic album cover 3.07 | 3 ratings
Third Stream 1970
HUBERT LAWS The Rite of Spring album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
The Rite of Spring
Third Stream 1971
HUBERT LAWS Wild Flower album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Wild Flower
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1972
HUBERT LAWS Morning Star album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Morning Star
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1972
HUBERT LAWS In the Beginning album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
In the Beginning
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1974
HUBERT LAWS Then There Was Light, Volume 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Then There Was Light, Volume 1
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1974
HUBERT LAWS Then There Was Light, Volume 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Then There Was Light, Volume 2
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1974
HUBERT LAWS The Chicago Theme album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Chicago Theme
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1975
HUBERT LAWS Romeo and Juliet album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Romeo and Juliet
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1976
HUBERT LAWS Land of Passion album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Land of Passion
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1979
HUBERT LAWS Family album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1980
HUBERT LAWS How To Beat The High Cost Of Living album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
How To Beat The High Cost Of Living
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1980
HUBERT LAWS Make It Last album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Make It Last
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1983
HUBERT LAWS My Time Will Come album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
My Time Will Come
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1993
HUBERT LAWS Storm Then the Calm album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Storm Then the Calm
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1994
HUBERT LAWS Bridge Over Troubled Water album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2002
HUBERT LAWS Moondance album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2004
HUBERT LAWS Hubert Laws Plays Bach for Barone & Baker album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hubert Laws Plays Bach for Barone & Baker
Pop/Art Song/Folk 2005

HUBERT LAWS EPs & splits

HUBERT LAWS live albums

HUBERT LAWS Carnegie Hall album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Carnegie Hall
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1973
HUBERT LAWS The San Francisco Concert album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The San Francisco Concert
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1977

HUBERT LAWS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

HUBERT LAWS re-issues & compilations

HUBERT LAWS The Laws of Jazz / Flute By-Laws album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Laws of Jazz / Flute By-Laws
Pop/Art Song/Folk 1994
HUBERT LAWS Crying Song / Afro-Classic / The Rite Of Spring album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Crying Song / Afro-Classic / The Rite Of Spring
Third Stream 2017

HUBERT LAWS singles (0)

HUBERT LAWS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


HUBERT LAWS The Rite of Spring

Album · 1971 · Third Stream
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With ‘Rite of Spring’ Hubert Laws brings jazz to an album completely made up of classical works, this time sourced mostly from Impressionist composers. Bach also makes an appearance, but perhaps the most impressive piece is Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ which serves as a wonderful title track. Arranger Don Sebesky would use Stravinsky again on ‘Giant Box’ two years later (also featuring Laws) but here the combination is probably more enjoyable, in terms of its suddenness and brooding nature, its unpredictable shifts of mood. In fact, through use of guitar and vibes, along with percussion, the piece, at times, takes on a South American folk or even tribal feel.

Now whether you believe jazz and classical music can be truly melded, it’s clear Laws can play both styles, and he demonstrates that a jazz sensibility can be taken to classical compositions. Not every piece benefits as much from the mixture, as the gentle, melancholy aspect of ‘Pavane’ for instance, isn’t diminished, but neither is it improved or altered too much. That sounded incredibly stuffy of me, but basically James’ electric piano and the percussion don’t compliment the material as well as the flute does in this instance. Overall, it’s still lovely. Conversely, the use of guitar (across the whole album) is another matter. While the classical style of playing brings Spain to my mind (doubtless because of Rodrigo) both Bertoncini and Scharf are quite important to the record, in part due to the kind of bridging role they play, working to flesh out the space between the jazz rhythm of bass and drums and the lead voices of flute or bassoon.

As is often the case when I put on a CTI-era Laws album, there’s a piece or two that fails to click with me. I am in no way a classical music buff, but it seems that the Impressionist and Romantic styled pieces play better than the Baroque stuff. The pomp of composers like Bach and Mozart don’t seem to marry with jazz as effectively, and certainly not always on the Laws’ albums I own. While the Bach movements are lively here, there’s something missing between the jazzy rhythm and the flighty lead voices.

‘Syrinx’ is another showcase for Laws, like Airegin on 'In the Beginning', who takes it as a solo piece, playing a duet with himself. It's a delicate and quite mysterious reading of the Debussy piece, and while it’s not the highlight for me, it has a quality.

So if you like any of Laws, or CTI’s efforts to merge classical and jazz, wherever you’ve come across it, and feel like you need a bigger hit, then ‘The Rite of Spring’ has it. While not a collection of back to back triumphs, this should have enough interesting attempts to fuse two seemingly separate styles to keep you listening.

HUBERT LAWS Afro-Classic

Album · 1970 · Third Stream
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‘Afro-Classic’ is very much in line with the variety a pop record often demands. Laws, joined by familiar players (who he would either use again or appear as guest on albums of their own) works their talents seamlessly into the material. Taking pop, classical and film scores as starting points, the album shows enough fire and enough restraint to be quite a satisfying listen, especially in its unashamedly ‘pop’ moments.

With a cool or at times almost dark tone, ‘Afro-Classic’ is more folk-sounding at times, thanks in part to the range of percussive sounds and guitar, but the album is also capable of going fairly straight classical, even if the vibes make for a surprising texture in the Allegro. ‘Theme from Love Story’ is sweet and Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’ is given the Laws light-funk-jazz treatment, and serves as a knockout opener, featuring an kind of psychedelic solo from the fuzz-vibe and an almost aggressive Laws solo.

The second Bach piece is half-traditional, half blues and half jazz. (Yes, three halves. The jazz and blues can share with the classical aspects.) It ranges across gentle bass notes, washes of cymbal and the tinkling of electric keys behind the rich tone of the bassoon and the (Spanish) guitar and flute, to a more bluesy rhythm, and shows how well Sebesky and Laws can blend the two styles, not just across a whole album, but in a single piece.

The Mozart Flute Sonata is pleasant enough but perhaps a touch forgettable, but for me the strength of the album rests on its longer pieces anyway. Easily one of the better Laws albums, perhaps it’s not essential unless you’re a fan, but it’s still great. In fact, the casual listener might want to start here if ‘In the Beginning’ isn’t handy. Often a delicate record, ‘Afro-Classic’ is very rewarding if you’re willing to sit back and let him do his work, and it does hold its share of surprising moments too.

HUBERT LAWS Morning Star

Album · 1972 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Employing a similar approach to what Laws perfected a couple of years later with ‘In the Beginning’ the flautist is backed by a large cast on ‘Morning Star’, an album which is almost doomed to miss the lofty heights of that later release, by what could be described as a ‘sameness’ to the pieces, or more likely, an over-orchestration.

Certainly it’s not a boring album, but it doesn’t feel as adventurous as many of his others. Laws is nimble as ever, but he seems to be strolling at times, over a band that’s strolling too, giving a fair few of the pieces a kind of ‘easy-listening’ feel that isn’t always unwelcome, but can sort of slip into the background of the consciousness. It might even be the multiple flute players on the record, with the tones of the bass flute in particular having a soporific effect on me, but whatever it is exactly, even after repeated listens, this album just plays it too even for too long. Sebesky’s arrangements do not help in this regard, lacking some of the verve from his other work, something that surprised me as I generally enjoy what he does. On the ‘Look of Love’ influenced ‘Where is the Love’ the strings are effective enough, but that’s not always the case.

When things pick up a moment, like during the latin-esque ‘No More’, it’s nice to imagine the band sitting up a bit, and getting into it, though here as elsewhere, it’s probably a little cluttered arrangement wise. The flute and strings rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ is nice enough, and the tune is essentially heartbreaking, but it’s almost Disney-fied by the strings. Closing with a piece that represents a missed opportunity perhaps, to challenge the listener with a deeper look at the darkness it hints at musically, ‘What do You Think of This World Now?’ is a odd moment and I’m not sure what to think of it. It feels a little like an experiment that was only semi-successful, incorporating film-score moments with some scattered vocals and a brief section more in line with the rest of the album, before drifting off.

The title track sits somewhere between ‘No More’ and ‘Where is the Love’ but is not as memorable as either, despite some flash from Cobham and Laws providing perhaps the most effective solo on the record. Essentially a disappointing release, and perhaps I’m being a little hard on ‘Morning Star’ but it’s simply not wholly enjoyable for me. My recommendation, for what it’s worth, is to start elsewhere for a taste of Laws.

HUBERT LAWS In the Beginning

Album · 1974 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Hubert Laws is a monster of the jazz world when it comes to the flute, and if you glance over his discography and guest appearances, you’ll see he’s lent his talent to more than a few albums over the years. His other great love is classical music, and one of the features common to many of his jazz releases, is a classical composition or two. Partially this is the old CTI formula too, but it’s quite suited to Laws, who often expands these pieces or at the very least, gives them an alternate reading simply by virtue of using jazz instrumentation.

‘In the Beginning’ represents a high point in his 1970s output, drawing from a variety of styles he’d explored in the past, giving the listener a bit of classical, a hint of the Latin world, a good dose of funk and an overriding pop sensibility. While this album is hardly tame, its pop/crossover label is apt indeed, though I’d argue that this release is both more eclectic and adventurous in terms of material and instrumentation than others from the period. And it’s also true that ‘In the Beginning’ doesn’t have much of the snap of his early post-bop releases, but Laws remains inventive and thoughtful throughout and there’s a different energy to album.

Part of that energy comes from Gadd, who might be accused of cramming a bit too much into the pieces, but he makes for lively listening and knows how to relax when he needs to. Laws’ brother Ronnie features on tenor, and Bob James on keys, but perhaps more so than either player (including the usually highly distinctive Airto) the other attention grabbing instrument might just be Dave Friedman’s vibes, which are often quite prominent. In terms of arrangement, there’s a fair bit more going on than a typical ‘head, solo, head situation,’ and the opener typifies this with its tempo changes, swinging in the middle, before closing on some funk. The listener gets another good shot of funk on the closer, where Laws returns to ‘Mean Lene’, expanding it from its original form on as heard on his debut, both smoothing it out and complicating its structure.

Laws is so effective in a gentle setting, but on many of the pieces here he’s speedy and flowing, such as in the full-steam ahead rendition of Coltrane’s ‘Moment’s Notice’ or the duet with Gadd, ‘Airegin’, which is a great showcase for Laws. While ‘Reconciliation’ almost floats by without making much of a mark on me, my only serious concern is the reading of the traditional piece ‘Come Ye Disconsolate’ which is just too earnest – unlike the subtler ‘Restoration’ where the vibes and piano take a bit of the spotlight.

A grand surprise was the interpretation of Satie’s stunning ‘Gymnopédie No. 1’ which, as a solo piano piece, is one of my favourite moments in the history of classical music. Before hearing it, I was worried that in the CTI setting, its beauty might be buried, but while there is guitar, bass, strings, piano and flute, the arrangement allows a delicate trading of lead roles, with unobtrusive backing. Played a little slower than I am used to hearing the piece, Laws gets the most out of the emotional impact of those signature notes.

Perhaps his finest work from the 1970s, and my preferred album over ‘Morning Star’ and ‘Afro-Classic’ or his equally well-known, more classical themed, ‘Rite of Spring.’

HUBERT LAWS Movies Reviews

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