Remembrance: Paying Tribute Through The Art Of Jazz Composition
In August of 2009, I joined the throngs of people making a musical pilgrimage to Newport, RI. George Wein's revived Newport Jazz Festival was set to feature a diverse line-up, with groups of all shapes and sizes, but I was most anxious to take in some of Brian Blade's drumming. I've been enthusiastically watching this drumming dynamo in a variety of live performances, with musicians as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Edward Simon and Bill Frisell, and I knew I was going to get two different opportunities to hear him at Newport.
I eagerly caught his set with Joshua Redman's double trio, and I sat under a tent and took in his intense performance with his Fellowship Band. When the weekend was over, and I was driving back to Long Island, I was already thinking about catching Blade and Joe Lovano in John Patitucci's trio the following weekend. While I hadn't heard much about Patitucci's project at the time, my interest in these musicians made this a must-see show. I ended up being very thankful that I made the trip to Dizzy's to catch one of their sets, which was built on the material from Patitucci's Remembrance (Concord, 2009). Patitucci sought to honor many different musicians with this project, from John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk to Olivier Messiaen, and he composed eleven different songs to express his feelings about these important artists.
While much of the material is discussion-worthy, from the short and catchy Lovano motif on "Mali" to the haunting title track written for Michael Brecker, I have a special fondness for "Blues For Freddie." This track honors Freddie Hubbard but it does so without taking too directly from the artist. It doesn't feature a trumpet player, it isn't performed at a fast clip, it doesn't present itself as a loving ballad and it doesn't feature Hubbard-isms all over the place. Instead, it almost seems to speak of Hubbard's confidence. The hip, no-nonsense approach and swagger that's present in Lovano's sound, and the firm footing provided by Patitucci along with Blade's tasty drumming, seem to point towards Hubbard's strong-willed musical nature.
Many people have addressed the fact that Hubbard tried to play his trumpet like a saxophonist in many regards. The limitations and restrictions that are native to the trumpet were taken on as more of a challenge than a crutch and Hubbard came closer, perhaps, than any other trumpet player in his pursuit of this ideal. In searching for a more fluid and flexible sound on the trumpet, Hubbard found his own direction...and legions of followers in the process. The fact that this song features a saxophonist paying homage to the trumpeter almost brings Hubbard's quest full-circle and certainly makes it a wholly appropriate way to honor this titan of the trumpet.
Stay tuned for more Old, New, Borrowed and Blue.
Courtesy of Mosaic Records