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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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HUBERT LAWS

In the Beginning

CTI 88697 88840 2

 

 


1. In The Beginning
2. Restoration
3. Gymnop‚die No.1
4. Come Ye Disconsolate
5. Airegin
6. Moment's Notice
7. Reconciliation
8. Mean Lene

Hubert Laws - Flute
Ron Carter - Bass
Steve Gadd - Drums
Airto - Percussion
Dave Friedman - Vibes
Gene Bertoncini - Guitar
Bob James - Piano, electric piano
Clare Fischer - Piano, electric piano (tracks 1, 8)
Richard Tee - Organ (track 4)
Rodgers Grant - Piano (track 8)
Ronnie Laws - Tenor sax
David Nadien, Emanuel Vardi - Violins (track 3)
George Ricci - Cello (track 3)

 

Creed Taylor became famous (or notorious) in the 1970s as a record producer who specialised in lush, clearly-recorded easy-listening takes on jazz. He was criticised by some reviewers for the smoothness of some of his productions but he deserved recognition for putting jazz musicians in the limelight at a time when jazz was suffering a downturn. Creed was a jazz fan and trumpeter, and his enthusiasm comes through in such albums as this one, which spotlights the many talents of flautist Hubert Laws.

This was originally a double LP, which allowed Hubert Laws space to indulge himself in long tracks which showed the breadth of his skill and styles. The flute had become fashionable thanks to its use in the bossa nova, a genre which had been promoted by Creed Taylor, and he produced some of Hubert's best albums, of which this is one.

The opening title-track composed by Clare Fischer (who is on electric piano) begins with what seems like free improvisation but then moves into straightforward relaxed swing, with a groovy bass solo from Ron Carter and a relaxed solo by Hubert Laws.

The width of Hubert's range is illustrated by the contrast between tracks 3 and 4. The former is a fairly straightforward version of Erik Satie's best-known Gymnop‚die, with string accompaniment and the flute improvising sensitively though not very jazzily. The latter uses the dependable Richard Tee at the organ to emphasise the solemn feeling of a traditional gospel song, which is given appropriate dignity by Hubert Laws' flute.

Throughout the album, Steve Gadd's dry drumming adds vigour to the music, especially in Airegin, where his hustling drums back Hubert's solo flute in a free-flowing extemporization which only leads into the actual melody after about five minutes. Hubert's daring is also shown by his tackling John Coltrane's Moment's Notice and improvising on it with unstoppable dexterity. Hubert's brother Ronnie supplies a serpentine tenor-sax solo which conjures up Coltrane's style. Bob James' electric piano solo is equally adventurous.

The last two tracks are the longest on the CD, clocking in at 10 and 15 minutes respectively. Reconciliation includes attractive solos from Bob James, Hubert Laws and Ron Carter. Hubert Laws' own composition Mean Lene switches between Latin-American rhythms and straight four-four, with softly appealing solos from Dave Friedman on vibes, Ronnie Laws on tenor, Hubert Laws on flute (showing his complete mastery of the instrument), Rodgers Grant on electric piano (although the sleeve credits him on "piano") and the percussionists.

The length of these last two tracks might be used against Creed Taylor as examples of excess, but I prefer just to lie back and bathe in the sweet sounds - as I do for the whole of the album. Now I await a CD reissue of my favourite Hubert Laws/Creed Taylor album: the San Francisco Concert.

Tony Augarde



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