Wednesday, 16 April 2014

“Keep Your Soul Together/Polar AC/Skagly” by FREDDIE HUBBARD (2014 Beat Goes On - 3LPs Remastered Onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"…Happiness Is Now…"

Fans of Jazz labels CTI (Creed Taylor Incorporated) and KUDO have had their appetites whetted with tasty reissues for years (the beautifully presented "Cool Revolution" 4CD set from 2010 is one). But at last a British reissue label takes these fondly remembered Seventies Fusion albums out of the realm of expensive imports and presents them with real class and superlative sound quality.

UK released April 2014 (May 2014 in the USA) - “Keep Your Soul Together/Polar AC/Skagly” by FREDDIE HUBBARD on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1144 (Barcode 5017261211446) features 3 entire LPs Remastered onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (78:56 minutes)
1. Brigette
2. Keep Your Soul Together
3. Spirits Of Trane
4. Destiny's Children
Tracks 1 to 4 are the album "Keep Your Soul Together" - released 1973 in the USA on CTI Records CTI 6036

5. Polar AC
6. People Make The World Go Round
7. Betcha, By Golly Wow
8. Naturally
9. Son Of Sky Dive
Tracks 5 to 9 are the album "Polar AC" - released November 1975 in the UK on CTI Records CTI 6056

Disc 2 (41:24 minutes):
1. Happiness is Now
2. Theme From "Summer Of `42"
3. Cascais
4. Skagly
5. Rustic Celebration
Tracks 1 to 5 are the album "Skagly" - released 1980 in the USA on Columbia Records FC 36418

As with all of these BGO reissues it comes with an outer card slipcase which gives the whole thing a quality feel and generic look. The 20-page booklet features full annotation, album sleeves, pictures of his stellar musicians and a wonderfully detailed appraisal of Hubbard and the albums by noted Mojo Jazz columnist CHARLES WARING. But the big news is the beautiful Sound...

Remastered in 2014 by ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Performance in London - the world-class original production values of Rudy Van Gelder are only accentuated here - lovely warmth and clarity abound - and space around the instruments too - it's a fabulous job done.

All 4 lengthy compositions on "Keep Your Soul Satisfied" are Hubbard originals and it opens with the beautiful vibes of "Brigitte" - sounding just so cool and mellow (just as I remember my used vinyl copy). The title track is fabulous fusion with the keys and treatments of George Cables to the fore. Side 2 of the LP opens with improv jazz sporting sensational drumming from Ralph Penland - while we get street funky with the finisher "Destiny's Children" which could so easily have been in a Blaxploitation movie of the time.

1975's "Polar AC" brought on board long-standing CTI superstars George Benson, Hubert Laws, Bob James and Lenny White. Originally aired by The Stylistics in late 1971 on their debut album (written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed) - "People Make The World Go Round" is one of those songs that gets covered to death (Neville Brothers, Marc Dorsey, Christine Day, and Innerzone Orchestra have all had a go) but Hubbard got their first. His version of their "Betcha By Golly, Wow" is cool too - stretching to 8 minutes (it may have inspired Prince to cover it). Things mellow out to Cannonball Adderley's "Naturally" with gorgeous strumming from Benson and jazzy shuffles from Billy Cobham on the sticks - ending on his own excellent "Son Of Sky Dive" sounding just spiffing.

In keeping with predominant sound of the times - things got seriously funky and Soulful for 1980's "Skagly" - bringing into the sessions keyboardist George Duke and even Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers fame on Guitar (title track). It opens with the chipper "Happiness Is Now" featuring superb musicianship from Billy Childs on keys and Carl Burnett on Drums (so "Aja" at times in its execution). The sweet feel to "Theme From "Summer Of '42 (The Summer Knows)" is so languid. Genius percussionist Paulinho Da Costa adds his rhythmic magic to the upbeat "Cascais" featuring great horn trades off between Hubbard and Headley Coleman. The near 15-minute funk work-out of Skagly" is a bit of a monster - great in places - but probably overstaying its welcome a tad. And it ends with "Aja" funky jam of "Rustic Celebration" which I've always loved.

I remember buying CTI albums at the time because as a Rock guy I knew they'd be aimed as geysers like me - chaps who liked their Fusion with a bit of Funk and dare we say it - Soulfulness. Revisiting these fabulous Hubbard albums has been a blast. A quality reissue - kudos indeed...

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