Monday, December 29, 2008

Couple of RIPs: Delaney Bramlett and Freddie Hubbard

The legends just keep on croakin'...

I took a look over at today, as I usually do every day, and was sad to see that both guitarist Delaney Bramlett and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard have died.

Bramlett, you may recall, had a short-lived band with his first wife Bonnie (Delaney and Bonnie) that was flanked by some of rock's biggest stars, i.e. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Dave Mason, etc. As it stands today, his best known work is probably what you've heard on Clapton's first solo album, including one of my personal Clapton favorites, "Let it Rain." Bramlett was 69.

Thanks to YouTube user "Morasch," we can relive the experience of hearing Delaney and Bonnie's "Only You Know and I Know" 45, in tribute. This Dave Mason composition was a top 20 hit for Delaney and Bonnie, and was also covered thereafter by both Eric Clapton and Badfinger:

Hubbard was known throughout the '60s as one of a group of jazz musicians often referred to then as the "young lions." His string of releases on the Blue Note, Atlantic and CTI labels are all held in high regard, and several are bona fide classics. At the turn of the decade, with the release of his 1970 masterpiece Red Clay, he was thought to be the next great trumpet legend in jazz, the heir apparent to Miles Davis. Unfortunately, things didn't quite turn out that way. Hubbard sank into contrived mediocrity in the mid to late '70s, and by the '80s, his artistry was at a low point as the next generation of "young lions" (Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, et al) seized a golden opportunity to steer jazz back towards its roots.

While many of Hubbard's peers, like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Ornette Coleman, and others, continued to have late-career successes, Hubbard remained sadly quiet and never did follow through on the promise of his early reputation. I've always considered it a tragedy that he wasn't out there cementing the legacy so many of us thought he deserved, and showing the younger generation just how great he could be. His health, unfortunately, was a factor in his absence, and his attempts to get back out on stage earlier this year yielded mixed results. But even as it stands today, his output from the '60s through the first half of the '70s will still secure his place in the pantheon of jazz greats. Hubbard was 70.

Here's Freddie while he was still at his peak and worthy of the Miles Davis comparisons, performing an awesome version of "Straight Life" at the 1975 Downbeat Awards (thanks to YouTube user "eatsleeptrumpet" for making this available):


grumpy said...

i think you're being a bit harsh on Freddie; his recorded output in the late 70's and 80's may not have been all that stellar, but he could still play great; just check out some of the other videos on YouTube, you'll see what i mean...while you're at it, check out my very own blog...


harmolodic said...

Thanks for the tip, will check it out! It's unfortunate, but sometimes death is what it takes to get those extra highlights to rise to the top. I wish I could have seen him back when he was still healthy and active.