Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer in the United States. We now look back at the summer and think, did we go to the beach often enough? The answer is always a resounding, NO! Somehow, we never go to the beach as often as we would have liked.
The cover of Freddie Hubbard’s Mistral, now displayed in the window of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, reminds us how serene and lovely the beach can be, with the lonesome lifeguard tower, waves breaking on the right and the ocean that just goes out for miles and miles. Kuni Shinohara took the photograph. His photos also appear on records by Keith Jarrett. Little else is known about him.
Freddie Hubbard, on the other hand, was a great hard bop trumpet player who also played flugelhorn. He recorded a bunch of classic records for the Blue Note label and worked with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Hubbard’s Backlash on Atlantic is just wonderful.
Freddie Hubbard played on some of our favorite jazz LPs of all time: Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, John Coltrane’s Ascension and Sonny Rollins’ East Broadway Run Down. Each of these is considered forward-looking, cutting-edge classics of modern jazz.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Mistral. Recorded in 1981, it is an early example of a genre that came to be known as smooth jazz. Freddie Hubbard made some great music in his day—much of it with drive and intensity. This album is much more relaxed. Perhaps we would enjoy it much more if we were listening to it while lying on the beach.