Freddie Hubbard

Bundle of Joy/Super Blue/The Love Connection

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BGO's 2013 double-disc set combines three late-'70s albums from Freddie Hubbard: 1977's Bundle of Joy, 1978's Super Blue, and 1979's The Love Connection. This is roundly considered the weakest phase in Hubbard's career, as the soul-funk aspirations of CTI slowly turned into smooth jazz, but the three albums here have all their own attributes. Bundle of Joy is the smoothest of the bunch, a curious exercise in one of the great hard bop trumpeters pursuing unabashed easy listening. Perhaps this mood music is beneath his skills, but as piece of polyester nostalgia, it's pretty terrific; pulsating to a strobe light, it's tacky, funky, and fun, the sound of leisure being pursued as a passion. By all measures outside of pure nostalgia, Super Blue is a better record, retaining a veneer of slickness, but it's essentially a busy, albeit stylized, hard-bop record, one that places emphasis on instrumental interplay, not groove. The Love Connection splits the difference between the two, having more than its fair share of overblown smoothness, but despite the title track and some vocals on "Little Sunflower," this isn't a particularly funky record: it's designed seduction for late-night quite storm stations. If you have no problem with that description, chances are this BGO three-fer will be a pleasant surprise. If that seems like sacrilege, there are plenty of Blue Note Hubbard dates for you.

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