Jazz at 100 Hour 64: Hard Bop Trumpet, Part 1 (1960 – 1967)

Donald Byrd -Herbie Hancock

In this portion of Jazz at 100, we are featuring tenor players and trumpeters who propelled hard bop into the 1960s. In this hour, we will continue with the Trumpet Players, Part 1, featuring three players who apprenticed in the Jazz Messengers: Lee Morgan – a Blue Note leader since 1956, Freddie Hubbard – who made his debut as a leader (also for Blue Note) in 1960 and Donald Byrd who recorded with everyone from Horace Silver to John Coltrane before becoming leader for Blue Note in 1958.

Lee Morgan.
“[Lee Morgan] will be remembered chiefly as the man who took on the mantle of Clifford Brown (with more than a little influence from Fats Navarro – although that is implicit in Brown anyway – and Dizzy Gillespie, including adopting the latter’s trademark upturned trumpet for a time), then went on to develop his own distinctive voice from those models. He cast the definitive mould for hard bop trumpet style in the process, and if much of his work in the late 1960s fell into a rather rote retreading of well-worn paths, he was always capable of both fireworks and a genuine expressiveness, and wrote some of the most memorable compositions to emerge from the genre. At his best, he was simply incandescent.” – Kenny Mathieson

In previous programs in this series we have heard from Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder of 1963 and Search for A New Land from 1964. He also recorded Tom Cat in 1964, then The Rumproller and The Gigilo in 1965 prior to the classic Cornbread, of September 1965. The three-horn format of Cornbread is bursting with talent like Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean and Herbie Hancock absolutely guaranteeing an exciting hard-bop ride. Morgan’s solos are inventive and sparkling and the ensemble bristles with energy and enthusiasm. Billy Higgins drums maintains tremendous propulsion behind the music, anchored by Larry Ridley’s bass.

Most Like Lee. Lee Morgan Sextet
(Lee Morgan-tp, Jackie McLean-as, Hank Mobley-ts, Herbie Hancock-p, Larry Ridley-b, Billy Higgins-d). From Cornbread. 9/18/1965
Composed by Lee Morgan

Ceora. Lee Morgan Sextet
(Lee Morgan-tp, Jackie McLean-as, Hank Mobley-ts, Herbie Hancock-p, Larry Ridley-b, Billy Higgins-d). From Cornbread. 9/18/1965
Composed by Lee Morgan

“On ‘Caribbean Fire Dance’ on Joe Henderson’s Mode for Joe album, the trumpeter manages to make his colleagues—Henderson, trombonist Curtis Fuller, vibist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Joe Chambers, all pretty “bad cats” themselves—sound like a bunch of sissies beside him. The tune itself is ‘mean,’ consisting of a tension-building minor vamp underlined by an obsessively repeated cross-rhythmic piano figure and an explosive release that together create an air of foreboding. Lee’s solo opens with a raw, guttural cry that cuts through all this polymetric layering like a knife. The cry is repeated and then gives way to an urgently tumbling figure, also repeated, that falls behind the beat as it comes to a close. The total effect thus created is one of urgency held under iron control. The rest of Morgan’s solo is marked by constant rhythmic displacements in counterpoint to the piano, bass, and drums, by blues-based phraseology, by his typically sardonic tone, and by key notes almost always bent, slurred, or half-valved: all elements in one of the most searingly dramatic trumpet styles in modern jazz.” – David Rosenthal

Caribbean Fire Dance. Joe Henderson Septet
(Lee Morgan-tp, Curtis Fuller-tb, Joe Henderson-ts, Bobby Hutcherson-vib, Cedar Walton-p, Ron Carter-b, Joe Chambers-d). From Mode For Joe. 1/27/1966
Composed by Joe Henderson

Freddie Hubbard.
Open Sesame and Goin’ Up were [Freddie Hubbard’s] first two records for [Blue Note] and their youthful ebullience is still exhilarating, the trumpeter throwing off dazzling phrases almost for the sheer fun of it. The brio of the debut is paired with the sense that this was the important coming-out of a major talent, and Hubbard’s solo on the title-track is a remarkable piece of brinkmanship… ‘All Or Nothing At All’ is taken at a pace that suggests the Indianapolis 500; power, but you feel he could play like this all night. This was an early appearance for Tyner, and a valuable glimpse of Tina Brooks, who contributes two tunes and plays with his particular mix of elegance and fractious temper. A great Blue Note set.” – Brian Morton & Richard Cook

Open Sesame. Freddie Hubbard Quintet
(Freddie Hubbard-tp, Tina Brooks-ts, McCoy Tyner-p, Sam Jones-b, Clifford Jarvis-d). From Open Sesame. 6/19/1960
Composed by Tina Brooks

All Or Nothing At All. Freddie Hubbard Quintet
(Freddie Hubbard-tp, Tina Brooks-ts, McCoy Tyner-p, Sam Jones-b, Clifford Jarvis-d). From Open Sesame. 6/19/1960

Donald Byrd.
“[On the 1959 LP Byrd in Hand,] Byrd’s crisp, richly brassy, increasingly lyrical trumpet work and the fleet, sinewy, driving approach which [Pepper] Adams had developed on baritone were combined with their notably complementary approach to phrasing and rhythmic placement to form a highly effective front line…” – Kenny Mathieson

“What’s impressive here is the overall sound of the record, a near-perfect balance of ensemble sound and effective if not charismatic soloing. Byrd contributes three effective lines, including the striking ‘Devil Whip’, that allow him to work at the edge of his comfort zone, expressive enough but never close to falling off the wire. [Pianist Walter] Davis is a terrific bop accompanist and his spacious chords provide enough of a safety net for the music to cohere at every point.” – Brian Morton & Richard Cook

Devil Whip. Donald Byrd Sextet
(Donald Byrd-tp, Charlie Rouse-ts, Pepper Adams-bs, Walter Davis Jr.-p, Sam Jones-b, Art Taylor-d). From Byrd In Hand. 5/31/1959

“[The 1963 LP] A New Perspective broke fresh ground for Byrd in its combination of a vocal chorus of eight singers … and a septet which featured Hank Mobley and guitarist Kenny Burrell as well as Hancock, with arrangements by Duke Pearson. The album … earned the trumpeter a minor hit with its best known track, ‘Christo Redentor’. It drew on a long-standing strain of gospel-derived music in Byrd’s work, but in a populist form which foreshadowed the crossover directions he would follow in an even more overtly commercial idiom in the 1970s.” – Kenny Mathieson

Cristo Redentor. Donald Byrd Septet
(Donald Byrd-tp, Hank Mobley-ts, Donald Best-vib, Herbie Hancock-p, Kenny Burrell-g, Butch Warren-b, Lex Humphries-d). From A New Perspective. 1/12/1963
Composed by Duke Jordan

In 1967, Donald Byrd released his last hard bop date, the LP Slow Drag, before launching into a new musical direction in funk and fusion. “The album features Byrd’s working unit, fresh off a stint at New York’s Five Spot Café. It’s a solid lineup that delivers with a dollop of bar smoke and dirty grooves. But it’s also a sophisticated album: Byrd was a forward-looking musician, and the modal influence of other contemporary leaders, particularly trumpeter Miles Davis, can clearly be heard in songs like ‘Secret Love.’” – Gene Simmons

Secret Love. Donald Byrd Quintet
(Donald Byrd-tp, Sonny Red-as, Cedar Walton-p, Walter Booker-b, Billy Higgins-d/voc). From Slow Drag. 5/12/1967

Lee Morgan was a hugely prolific recording artist whose life was cut short by his murder outside Slug’s Saloon in 1972. Freddie Hubbard moved from hard bop to decidedly more popular offerings for Atlantic and CTI for a decade before participating in the resurgence of acoustic jazz in 1977. He recorded until passing away in 2008. Donald Byrd also transitioned into fusion and funk in the 1970s and, although he continued to record sporadically, was primarily focused on education through the remainder of his career. He died in 2013.
In the next hour of Jazz at 100 we will complete our four-part survey of significant hard bop tenor and trumpet players, featuring lesser known trumpeters Kenny Dorham, Dizzy Reece and Blue Mitchell.

Lee Morgan. Cornbread. Blue Note BLP 4222
Joe Henderson. Mode For Joe. Blue Note BLP 4227
Freddie Hubbard. Open Sesame. Blue Note BLP 4040
Donald Byrd. Byrd In Hand. Blue Note BLP 4019
Donald Byrd. A New Perspective. Blue Note BLP 4124
Donald Byrd. Slow Drag. Blue Note BST 84292

Mathieson, Kenny. 2002. Cookin’: Hard Bop and Soul Jazz 1954-65. Canongate Books.
Donald Byrd / Blue Mitchell / Booker Little
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Freddie Hubbard. Open Sesame.
Donald Byrd. Byrd in Hand.
Rosenthal, David. 1992. Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music, 1955-1965. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 7. The Power of Badness
Simmons, Greg. 2011. Donald Byrd: Slow Drag. All About Jazz. July 2,2011

Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100

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