See Steve's Hand-Written Solo Transcription

Freddie Hubbard's Trumpet solo on:

"Latina"(Freddie Hubbard)

    How well I remember this tune, this particular period of the work of the great Freddie Hubbard because I used to go see his quintet perform each time they came to West Coast and played at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. Thinking back, I can't recall how I got admitted when I certainly wasn't old enough then to have been in a place where alcohol was served. Life can be so full of ironies, when I now see the song title, "Latina" and recall how much I loved this tune, at that time, how could I have possibly known the importance that latinas would end-up having in my personal life? When Freddie's "HIGH BLUES PRESSURE"(Atlantic) album was released in 1968, I immediately gravitated towards this tune which bears some Latin influences, but really only on the surface.HIGH BLUES PRESSURE I don't know why, but recently, I thought of this tune and wanted to hear again. The next thing I knew, I heard Freddie's solo and his beautiful tone and phrasing, and then, there I was scribbling it all out. So, I'm very pleased to be able to now share the results with everyone.
    During the mid-'60s when I would see the Freddie Hubbard Quintet, the fixtures in the group always seemed to be James Spaulding and drummer Louis Hayes. I think that the first time that I saw Freddie live, Albert Dailey was the pianist. Later, Kenny Barron was always there. The personnel on "Latina" was as follows: Bennie Maupin(Tenor Sax); James Spaulding(Alto Sax & Flute); Kiane Zawadi(Trombone or Euphonium); Howard Johnson(Tuba); Kenny Barron(Piano); Herbie Lewis(Ac. Bass); Freddie Waits(Drums); and Roman "Bulldog" Broadus(Conga). Freddie always had a particular composing style, and when he wrote for an expanded horn section, the voicings had a particular character to them. Both of these things I still find very enjoyable as a listener.
    The Intro, [I] section is 16 bars long and is all performed over a Bb pedal building a certain degree of tension which gets released as the melody arrives. The solo format, like the tune itself is a most basic [A]-[A]-[B]-[A] form with each section being 8 bars in length. The actual chordal harmony of the first 4 bars of each [A] section is really a bit ambiguous to my ears. It always feels like it's some kind of Bb7(9), and I hear in Kenny Barron's quasi-montuno accompaniment that there are Ab's that appear. But, if you study Freddie's wonderful solo, you will see and hear that he really avoids Ab's and doesn't even play one over those Bb7 sections until the very last [A3]. During Chorus 1, in bar 3 of [A3], Freddie even plays an A-natural, and, it sounds great. You could say that it's just a chromatic lower neighbor to the root Bb, but that depends upon your perspective. Each of the other soloists, Spaulding, Maupin, and Barron are afforded only 1 chorus, and during the piano solo, if one focuses on Kenny's left hand, you can hear that he's clearing relating to the Bb chord as dominant 7th chord, and with the usual suspensions and extensions. As this performance is only 4:48 in length, one must remember that this was recorded during the LP age and producers were always hoping to keep the length of each side at under 18-minutes to insure that hottest pressing, meaning the most level, from mastering. The length of the solos reflects that kind of mentality perfectly.So, with that in mind, let's take a more in depth look at this solo.
    Chorus 1 features some of the most melodic and romantic playing that you can find from Freddie Hubbard. His opening phrase connects beautifully through the 3 chord changes of the first [A] section. As he moves into [A2], the activity begins to pick up. Personally speaking, I love the shape of the phrase that occupies the first 3 bars. To make the transition to the Gm7 chord, he uses one of the most common improvising devices in the genre, and that is to anticipate the arrival of the coming chord change with your line before it actually arrives. In the first half of bar 4, he is still in the Bb area, but the last 2 beats, he makes the transition by using the classic minor line configuration that employs the degree of the maj7th as a lower neighbor to the root of G-natural which arrives right on the downbeat of bar 5. This brings me to a special point of interest which has to do with the character of certain trumpet mannerisms that help to form the lexicon of Jazz phrasing. To be specific, I'm speaking of the 1st beat of bar 6 of [A2] where you see that little rhythmic grouping of a 16th-note triplet and an 8th-note. Many years, as I was trying to incorporate technique from other instruments to the guitar, I used to hear Randy Brecker doing this all the time. Once, at rehearsal, or a jam session, I stopped to ask him right after he had played it, "What is that little thing that you just did?" I tried to do my impression of it by singing it to him. He just looked at me, and said: "I don't know, it's just a thing!" In one sense, it is not so much the rhythmic grouping which you can see all over the place in Charlie Parker solo transcriptions. It's actually the configuration of the pitches, which must be idiosyncratic to the trumpet. At least, that's my guess. In the case, after the A-Bb-A triplet, it goes down to an F-natural. It is very common to see it just go down a whole-step to G-natural. It happens so quickly that, if you're not a trumpeter, you just might not be able to figure out exactly WHAT is going on. However, with the help of Andy Robinson's brilliant program called "Transcribe!," I was able to slow it down enough to clearly hear exactly what Freddie was playing. You can't imagine how happy that made me. I had been waiting years to learn that one silly little thing, but, it was worth the wait!!!
    As letter [B] arrives, the sequence of the chord changes, though they are all minor 7 chords, becomes much more complex and a bit difficult to negotiate. As it is Freddie Hubbard's composition, you would think that he would most comfortable playing over this section. He certainly sounds that way the first time that it appears. From a modal perspective, it seems as though Freddie is treating each two bars in the mode of the 2nd minor 7th chord. So, in bar 1 of the section, you have Bbm7 to Cm7, and you see all the notes from C Dorian(C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb). In bar 3, you have Gbm7 to Abm7, and the phrase reveals to me that he's thinking in Ab Dorian(Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb). The only note that does not happen to appear is Gb. In bar 5, the chords move from Bm7 to Dbm7 and, other than not seeing Cb, it still sounds like Db Dorian(Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb) to me. However, in the final 2 bars, his approach changes, and he seems to hear the modality as related more to the first chord as opposed to the 2nd chord. In bar 7, you have Gm7 to Am7 and you see all the notes from G Dorian(G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F), even though he spells out an A minor triad on the first two beats. In bar 8, the chords move from Cm7 to Dm7, and you see all the notes from C Dorian, except a Bb. As a point of interest, if and when you hear James Spaulding's flute solo, that immediately follows Freddie, you hear this exact same modal approach to the section. As Chorus 1 concludes in [A3], Freddie plays another beautiful phrase in bar 2-4. He reprises the phrase that includes my favorite trumpet phrasing ornament in bar 5, and finally in bar 7, he plays a real classic rhythmic grouping, one that is very particular to this great artist. This figure consists of 2 8th notes followed by a quarter note, all played staccato and on the same note, in this case a D-natural. This little grouping ended-up becoming the melody to the [B] of his tune, "Povo" from the "SKY DIVE"(CTI) album in 1972.
    As Chorus 2 begins, the high register trumpet gymnastics appear culminating with a high F-natural in bar 1 of [A2]. On beat 1 of bar 5, I decided to write that note as a G-natural, because I'm certain that this was Freddie's intension, but, on inspection, the actual note is a bit sharp and can sound more like an Ab. So, keep that in mind please. As [A2] continues, we have one of my favorite Hubbard lines of the solo. It begins at the very end of bar 2, and concludes in bar 7. If you look at it, it might seem, on the surface, to be all that spectacular, but I think it's the shape of the line and the fact that it functions so well on the trumpet. That, in and of itself, is probably a good melodic and linear exercise for all the guitarists out there. Bars 5-8 feature the same trumpet mannerism that we have already spoken about a couple of times prior to this in the analysis. Here he uses it thematically as you see a slight alternation in the line as the chord changes from Gm7 to Em7. It's a very nice touch. Then you see a nice 6 beat rest as he gears-up for some further upper register gymnastics, this time as he negotiates the harmonic complexities of the [B] section. One of the remarkable things about seeing Freddie Hubbard play live was that, through long sets of music, lots of melodies to play, solos to take, he never seemed to lose his capacity to play the high notes. And, he never lost his huge sound and ability to play complex lines. In a studio setting like this, where, no doubt, it was predetermined how many choruses Freddie would play, perhaps, in his mind, he felt that he had to make something happen which, in my opinion, is never a good place to be internally. It's like a guitarist who might feel his solo isn't resonating with the audience and so, musical or not, he chooses to hit his overdrive pedal and launch into all the crowd pleasing stuff. For a great, great player like Freddie, I don't know that this choice was the best one.
    As the solo concludes during [A3], he demonstrates that his Jazz sensibilities are always present, especially in his phrasing. Even though "Latina" is supposed to have a more even 8th-note feel to it, during the 8 bars of this section, everything that Freddie plays has a most distinct kind of swing to it which sounds and feels wonderful on top of, what to a Jazz musician constitutes, a Latin feel. Even the rhythm section feels a bit swingy here. In bar 3, as that line ascends, what Freddie does to accentuate the sense of swing is that, for feel, he ghosts the Bb's which I have indicated on the transcription with an 'x' instead of the real note. Again, I choose to write it this way because the feeling he's trying to create is more important than the actual note. This can be done on the guitar too, it's a very subtle device and takes some work but it will contribute to the sense of swing that you can convey in any solo over any feel.
    On a more personal note, at the time that I was listening to this LP and this tune in West Los Angeles, I don't believe that I even knew what a latina was! No matter how multi-cultural I might have thought my life had been in Los Angeles, especially during my college years, it was nothing compared to having every sense opened by just learning to live in New York City. And, in the end, several Latinas have become the great loves of my life. So, to be sharing this particular transcription, one that bears this title, has greater significance than one might have imagined!
    For me, this was a transcription born of a sense of great nostalgia, mixed with my great love and admiration for the playing of Freddie Hubbard. As I have re-read the analysis, as presented here, it almost appears as though a couple of phrases and one very idiosyncratic trumpet ornament were the sole reasons for making the effort to transcribe this particular solo. If one seeks to learn something or to demystify something then, any effort is worth it. Now, if only a guitar could really model itself after Freddie's immense sound, his phrasing, his sense of swing, and his talent to compose and arrange. That would be really special.

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