AT ONKEL PÖ’S CARNEGIE HALL

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“When Freddie Hubbard came to Hamburg to get on the tiny stage of Onkel Pö’s Carnegie Hall, he was right at the centre of the world of jazz, probably more than ever before or after in his career — together with Herbie HancockWayne ShorterRon Carter and Tony Williams the trumpet player had set-up the quintet ‘V.S.O.P.’ three years earlier; as the other four people of the group had previously formed the legendary second quintet of Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard could be considered to be his direct successor. . . . The concert in Hamburg with his own quintet was exemplary for the artistic standard Hubbard set in those days almost four decades ago. Together with the ‘V.S.O.P.’-legend, this was basically the prologue to the evening at Onkel Pö; Furthermore, at that time the album The Love Connection (1979) had just been released and its title song also starts off the live recording made by the NDR broadcasting station on location at Lehmweg in Hamburg-Eppendorf. Hubbard’s band adopted some aspects of Blakey‘s ‘Messengers’-strategy: appearing on stage together with the young up-and-coming saxophonist Hadley Caliman (who sometimes also played the flute), the then 23-year-old bassist Larry Klein — who would later develop into a surprisingly versatile artist […] and with the drummer Carl Burnett. Above all, the pianist Billy Childs performed brilliantly that evening at Onkel Pö — he was only 22 years old. Apropos, also the exceptional singer Leon Thomas was on stage in Hamburg that day. . . . Freddie Hubbard’s career suffered a severe setback in 1993; or to be more precise: not a setback but a split with dramatic consequences. His lips could not cope with the high pressure of playing the trumpet any longer. It took Hubbard several years to heal and regenerate (his lips as well as himself!). These were very difficult times for him. Basically, he had to completely reinvent himself as a musician — and he started (as he sometimes had already done in the past) to perform on the softer, more gentle sounding flugelhorn, an instrument which is less physically demanding on the lips.” —Michael Laages