Freddie Hubbard

Keystone Bop, Vol. 2: Friday & Saturday Night

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In 1981, legendary bebop trumpeter Freddie Hubbard got together with fellow elder statesmen Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Henderson and an energetic rhythm section to play a weekend of gigs at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco. The Sunday night performances can be heard on Keystone Bop: Sunday Night, and Prestige has released music from the Friday and Saturday night sets as well: Keystone Bop, Vol. 2: Friday & Saturday Night. It consists of nearly 70 minutes of music split across four lengthy tracks: three Hubbard originals ("One of Another Kind," "First Light," and the classic "Red Clay") and a rendition of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." And therein lies a hint as to the album's strength and its weakness: if you're expecting tight, hard-driving conventional bop, you'll be disappointed. These renditions average out to over 17 minutes each, with all the discursive extravagance that treatment implies. But that's not all bad, by any means. When Hubbard cedes center stage to Henderson on the group's almost unrecognizably uptempo take of "'Round Midnight," there are plenty of saxophone fireworks to be enjoyed over the course of the tune's 12 and a half minutes, and the same is true of Hubbard's trumpet playing on "One of Another Kind." A funky rendition of "Red Clay" (which features Hutcherson on vibes as well as Henderson) manages to stay tight and compelling throughout its 20-minute length, especially during Hutcherson's brilliant solo, and the gently swinging "First Light" makes the most of its relatively few chord changes. But it's hard not to think that offering more, briefer tunes wouldn't have made these performances a bit more interesting and fun overall. Still, fans won't be disappointed.

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